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'TWIXT GREEK AND TURK 



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'TWIXT GREEK AND TtIEK 



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OR 



JOTTINGS DURING A JOURNEY THROUGH 

THESSALY, MACEDONIA, AND EPIRUS, 

IN THE AUTUMN OF 1880 



BY 

M. VALENTINE CHIEOL 



WITE FRONTISPIECE AND MAP 




WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS 

EDINBURGH AND LONDON 

MDCOOLXXXI 



20S . ^ . a9 . 



^:^ 



PREFACE. 



The political events of the day have drawn 
so much of public attention to the regions 
which I have lately visited, that a sketch of 
their actual condition as I saw them in the 
autumn of Ijust year, may not prove unaccept- 
able at the present moment. I have not 
written in order to plead either this cause or 
that one. I am not a Philo-Turk, nor am 1 
a Phil-Hellenic, or a Philo-Wallach, or a Philo- 
Albanian, or a Philo-Bulgarian ; but I believe 
that a great change is at hand in the south- 
eastern peninsula of Europe, in which these 
rising nationalities have each its part to play. 
The old Ottoman empire — the Mussulman the- 



VI PREFACE. 

ocracy — is doomed, on this side of the Bos- 
phorus at le6U3t Whether its Dame and the 
shadow its power be still allowed to endure, 
or whether the "bag and baggage" policy be 
carried out to the bitter end, a new order of 
things is in process of evolution. If my jot- 
tings by the way can help the reader to a 
clearer apprehension of the grave events which 
must sooner or later remodel the map of South- 
eastern Europe, my journey will not have been 
undertaken in vain. 

Some of the notes embodied in the following 
pages have already appeared in 'Blackwood's 
Magazine,' in the *Pall Mall Gazette,' and in 
the * Fortnightly Review ; ' and I am indebted 
to Mr J. Morley for his kind permission to 
make use of the last. 

M. VALENTINE CHIEOL. 



CJONSTANTINOPLB, April 8, 1881. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAP. 

I. FROM 00N8TANTIN0FLB TO LARI88A, 
IL THBSSALY AND ITS CAPITAL, • 
III. UNDER THE SHADOW OF OLTMFUS, . 
lY. THROUGH WESTERN MACEDONIA, 
V. THE YILATET OF HONASTIR, . 
VI. A BOLOARUN CITT, .... 

VII. THE VALE OF TEMFE AND THE PLAIN OF 



THES8ALT, 

VIIL THROUGH THE HEART OF THE PINDUS, . 
IX. AMONG THE WALLAOHS, .... 

X. TANINA, 

XI. "BY SULl'S ROOK," .... 

XII. "and PARGa's SHORE," .... 

XIIL AMONG THE ALBANIANS OF SOUTHERN EPIRUS, 

XIV. THE ALBANIAN LEAGUE, .... 

XV. BACK TO ISTAMBOUL, .... 



PAGS 
1 

15 

30 
49 
69 
90 

106 
131 
146 
170 
188 
215 
230 
251 
268 



Note. — ^The Sketch on the Cover of the book 
represents the remarkable aerial Monasteries of 
Meteora. 



'TWIXT GEEEK AND TUEK 



*) 



CHAPTER I. 

PROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO LAKISSA. 

It was in September last that I determined to 
carry into immediate execution my intention of 
visiting Thessaly, Macedonia, and Epirus. The 
first step to this end was naturally to obtain the 
permission of the Turkish authorities to travel 
in those provinces of the empire. And there 
my difficulties began. The naval demonstration 
was at its height, and the official world of 
Stamboul proportionately exasperated against 
foreigners in general, and EngUshmen in par- 
ticular, who were held to be singly and collec- 
tively responsible for this peculiar outcome of 

A 



'tWIXT greek and TURK. 



Mr Gladstone'd Turcophobia. In vain I peti- 
tioned for a houyourouldu or passport — in vain 
I ante-chambered day after day in the crowded 
offices of the Sublime Porte, cheek-by-jowl with 
destitute widows and orphans of soldiers fallen 
in the late war for their Padishah, irate con- 
tractors soured by long-deferred payments, and 
all the host of beggars, creditors, and sycophants 
who every day hover with oriental patience 
about the tortuous corridors and gloomy cham- 
bers of the tumble-down building where the 
affairs of State have for so many centuries been 
managed or mismanaged. The houyourouldu 
was not forthcoming. Excuses were, however, 
as plentiful as flies in June. Brigandage was 
rampant in those provinces, and the Turkish 
Government could not allow travellers to expose 
themselves to dangers such as Colonel Synge 
had but recently experienced, and from which 
he had been rescued only with difficulty and at 
great public loss. Moreover, the popular feel- 
ing in Thessaly and Epixus had been seriously 
excited by the recent action of the Powers, and 
a foreigner might find himself exposed to un- 
pleasantnesses from which the local authorities 



FROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO LARISSA. 3 

could scarcely protect him. It was evident that 
the Porte did not wish to have busybodies roam- 
ing about the provinces and spying out the 
nakedness of the land. But unfortunately, I 
have ever been inclined to consult my own in- 
clinations rather than my neighbours', and 1 
certainly had no intention of deferring my plans 
to the convenience of the Sublime Porte. So 
I resolved to do without the vizierial houy- 
ourouldu; and having equipped myself in the 
lightest marching order, and being provided 
with a few letters of introduction to local mag- 
nates, and to one of the commanding officers in 
Thessaly, I embarked on the 18th of September 
on board the Austrian steamer Apis for Volo, 
trusting to my own diplomacy and the chapter 
of accidents to enable me to develop my pro- 
gramme with better success at Larissa. 

It takes as long to get from Constantinople 
to Larissa as to London. The Austrian Lloyd's 
and the French Fraissinet are the only two lines 
which connect the capital with the province of 
Thessaly; and their steamers spend six days, not 
altogether unpleasantly, in wending their way 
round the coasts of the Mgean to the Gulf of 



4 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

Volo. The first morning after we lost sight 
of Seraglio Point, with its forest of cypress-trees 
and minarets, we halted at the Dardanelles, 
where General Blum's formidable new earth- 
works have usurped the name and function of 
Sultan Amurath's picturesque old fortress, the 
Key of the Seas. From the mouth of the Straits 
our course lay northwards between the main- 
land and the rugged islands of Imbros and of 
Samothraki. Here Neptune was wont of old to 
sit on the summit of Mount Saos, and survey 
the plain of Troy and the fleet of the Argives ; 
and here the old sea-god doubtless woke up of 
late years to watch Britannia rule the waves in 
Besika Bay. All along the northern shores of 
the iEgean from D^d^agatch to Cavalla, between 
the sea and the wild mountain - range of the 
Rhodope, there stretches one of the richest 
tracts of land in European Turkey — the land of 
Yenidjd tobacco, for the choice crops of which 
there is every year the same keen competition 
in the market as for the grands crils of Margaux 
and of Yquem. Both at Ddddagatch and Port 
Lagos we stop some hours to take in our 
fragrant cargo. But neither at the one nor at 



FROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO LARISSA. 5 

the other is any trace of the natural wealth of 
the district to be seen in the miserable, fever- 
stricken towns. A few warehouses and mer- 
chants' dwellings along the shore, with rows 
of squalid hovels, alone mark those geograph- 
ical expressions which recent history has made 
famous by the disastrous winter retreat of Sulei- 
man Pasha's army from Adrianople across the 
Rhodope. Cavalla alone escapes the curse of 
the malaria which infests these fertile plains; 
for it lies at the western limit of this tobacco 
region, where an abrupt spur of the Rhodope 
projects into the sea : a smart, clean little town, 
built up against the side of a precipitous rock — 
white houses interspersed with the dark-green 
of myrtle and orange groves, and the domes and 
minarets of churches and mosques rising in ter- 
races above the sheer sea-cliflf, under the shadow 
of a picturesque old fortress, which is certain- 
ly more adapted nowadays for ornament than 
for use : a wealthy town withal, where Greek 
traders and Turkish landowners reside in that 
good-fellowship which is the usual outcome of 
common interests and mutual usefulness, un- 
disturbed by political intrigues and official soli- 



6 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

citations. Happy, too, is Cavalla, insomuch 
that, save for its being the birthplace of Me- 
hcmet Ali, it has no history. But the memory 
of the great Egyptian ruler who once made the 
Padishah tremble on his throne still lives in 
Cavalla, and a spacious building with stately 
arcades and terraces marks the place where the 
first Khedive was born. Mehemet Ali — who, 
by the by, was of Albanian lineage — mindful in 
after-days of his native town, built and endow- 
ed this establishment, where, according to the 
founder's wishes, gratuitous instruction is still 
given to a certain number of Mussulman chil- 
dren, and where humble wayfarers of all creeds 
and races may obtain food and shelter during 
their sojourn in the town. As we steamed out of 
its peaceful little bay the shades of evening were 
slowly creeping over the quaint old town. But 
the warm sunlight still lingered on the neigh- 
bouring island of Thasos ; and the long ridge of 
Mount Ipsario was flushed with gold, recalling 
the days when the Phoenicians worked its gold- 
mines, and Archilochus described it, in allusion 
to its wealth and shape, and perhaps also to the 
intelligence of its inhabitants, who allowed for- 



FROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO LARISSA. 7 

eigners to reap their treasures, as an ass's back- 
bone cased in gold. As we drew out into the 
open, the whole range of the Rhodope came again 
into view, the soft after-glow resting peacefully 
on the slopes and vales, which but a few years ago 
were lit up by the lurid glare of burning towns 
and villages. In the whole history of the last 
Turco - Russian war, there is no more thrilling 
chapter than that which records the long and 
heroic resistance offered by the Moslem popu- 
lations of the Rhodope to the advance of the 
victorious Russians. The Treaty of San Stefano 
had been signed, and the Rhodope was included 
in the area given up to the tender mercies of the 
Russian army of occupation. But its inhabi- 
tants knew too well what they had to expect at 
its hands : the thousands and tens of thousands 
of miserable refugees from Bulgaria and Roumelia 
who had fled at the Cossack's approach to its 
mountain fastnesses, had too often told the same 
harrowing tales of wanton outrage and burning 
homesteads. Abandoned to their fate by the 
rulers of Constantinople, without either the 
materials or the sinews of war, they resolved 
at least to die in defence of their homes. A 



8 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

few foreign enthusiasts came to give them their 
help in organising their resistance ; and for five 
months this half-armed mob of peasantry kept 
the victorious armies of the Czar at bay. Now 
and then the Cossacks made a successful raid into 
their mountains, carrying fire and sword into 
the unfortunate villages ; but the Eussians, re- 
pulsed in one or two important engagements, 
failed to make good their foothold. Fearing to 
risk their laurels in a desperate, and, to them, 
barren struggle, and dreading the political con- 
sequences which it might have involved, they 
contented themselves with blockading the so- 
called insurgents in their mountain fastnesses ; 
and the Rhodope, surrounded on all sides by 
Russians, remained untrodden by their soldiery, 
like a solitary island, against which the waves 
of invasion beat up in vain. 

Midnight brought us up under the lee of the 
Holy Mountain, and the lofty cone of Mount 
Athos towered white and ghostly above us, ris- 
ing abruptly from the sea to a height of over 
6000 feet. In the morning we were fairly in 
the Gulf of Salonica; and to the west, on the 
distant shores of Thessaly, the Cloud-compeller 



FROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO LARISSA. 9 

looked down upon ns from the dome -shaped 
summits of Olympus, where he sits in majestic 
exile awaiting the day when the Conference 
of Berlin and the concert of the Powers shall 
restore him to his chosen people. 

A day at Salonica, the true Jerusalem on the 
sea — where 40,000 Hebrews, descendants of one 
of the many batches of unfortunate Jews ex- 
pelled from Spain at the behest of the Grand 
Inquisitor, still assert by their Spanish idiom 
and Hebrew type the exclusive purity of the 
Semitic race — and at last, on the fifth morning 
after leaving Constantinople, the good steam- 
ship Apis rounds the jagged spur which Pelion 
projects like a huge claw across the mouth of 
the Gulf of Volo. Encircled by bleak and lofty 
mountains and steep cliffs, which only fall away 
towards the north-west to allow access to the 
plains of Thessaly, the gulf is sheltered like a 
lake from the winter storms which have made 
the Mgean famosum tempestate mare ; though 
now and again impetuous squalls rush down the 
mountain gullies and lash its deep-blue waters 
into transient fury, to the discomfiture of the 
puny native craft Presently the town of Volo 



10 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

itself comes into sight, stretching in a long white 
line round the head of a small creek-like bay at 
the most northern end of the gulf. A consider- 
able Turkish squadron — two ironclads, a cor- 
vette, and a couple of despatch -boats — lie at 
anchor before it, watching sullenly over the 
town which is soon to be wrested from their 
grip. Perched up aloft against the barren 
mountain-side, some 1500 feet above the town, 
are the villages of Macrinitza and Portaria, 
famous for the desperate stand which they made 
against the Turkish troops during the short-lived 
insurrection of 1878. Since then the Turks 
have constructed earthworks on the crest of the 
hills above them, and they are virtually at the 
mercy of those batteries. 

Volo, like many Turkish towns along the 
basin of the Mediterranean, is really composed 
of two distinct towns — the old Turkish and the 
modern Christian town. The old town of Volo 
lies north, at the head of the bay. Inside a 
ruinous fortress, where a few obsolete cannon 
still peep over the tumble -down walls, there 
is a Turkish bazaar, some barracks^ and perhaps 
a hundred houses, almost entirely tenanted by 



PROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO LARISSA. 11 

Mussulmans, to the number of 1200 or 1300. 
But I was not allowed to explore it ; for the re- 
cent visit to Volo of the British military attache 
had roused the suspicions of the garrison, and 
no sooner was my giaour' head -gear detected 
inside the gates than I was courteously asked 
my business. On my replying that I wished to 
pay my respects to the himhashi in command, I 
was told he was from home, and requested to 
call another day. So I was only able to take 
stock of a small wooden pop-gun, which appeared 
to have been placed inside the fortress-gate to 
enfilade inquisitive intruders. Across a marshy 
swamp, where . vety thin battalion w«, en- 
camped, presumably upon sanitary considera- 
tions, I trudged back to the new town of Volo. 
The latter is scarcely more than thirty years old. 
One of its veteran inhabitants, who settled there 
in 1858, told me that at that time it counted 
only about 80 houses ; whereas now there are 
over 500 houses, with a population of some 4000 
souls, Greeks almost to a man. It consists of 
one long, broad street, more than half a mile in 
length, running parallel to the sea, with a few 
warehouses and a steam-mill, and some shipping 



12 ^TWIXT GREEK AND TURK. 

agencies, along the water's edge and in the streets 
running down to it. The houses are mostly well 
built, of stone and stucco, in the modem Greek 
style ; and, besides coffee-houses and wine-shops 
innumerable, it boasts even a hotel, whereof 
the less said the better. Annexation to Greece 
is naturally looked forward to here with un- 
mixed satisfaction. No town in Thessaly would 
gain more by the change. The only outlet for 
the produce of this rich grain -growing prov- 
ince, with an import and export trade which 
already exceeds £350,000 per annum, with a 
shipping traflBc of nearly 150,000 tons, endowed 
by nature with an admirable roadstead and easy 
means of developing communication with the in- 
terior, it would soon grow into a first-class port, 
and take tithes of the increased prosperity which 
must accrue to the whole province. But there 
is an entire absence of anything like political 
excitement. The cession of Volo to the Hel- 
lenic kingdom, already accepted by the Ottoman 
Government in its former proposals, has long 
been looked upon as a foregone conclusion by 
Greeks and Turks alike. There is neither ex- 
ultation on the one hand, nor despondency on 



FROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO LARISSA. 13 

the other, both having been long since dis- 
counted. 

Between Volo and the capital of Thessaly 
there is a carriage -road, but, like most such 
roads in Turkey, heaven-made — the hand of 
man has had little to do with it ; and he who 
allows himself to be jolted over it for eight mor- 
tal hours, in the rude wooden canopied carts 
called brashowkas — be the hay stretched under 
him ever so soft, his supply of rugs and wraps 
ever so plentiful — has cause to recollect for many 
a day the " Sultan's road " from Volo to Larissa. 
On reaching the crest of the hills which divide 
off the seaboard from the plain of Thessaly, one 
obtains a most lovely view of the town and 
Gulf of Volo. The bastions and minarets of the 
Turkish quarter ; the white houses of the new 
town ; the groves of olive-trees, nestling at the 
foot of the mountains; the numerous villages, 
perched like eagles' nests on the precipitous 
slopes of Pelion ; the bold outline of the jagged 
coast; the smooth blue waters, studded with 
many a quaintly rigged sail, and the dark forms 
of the Turkish fleet riding at anchor in the road- 
stead, — ^make up a striking picture, full of lights 



14 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

and shades, both for the moralist and the painter. 
Down the other side, the road soon reaches the 
vast treeless plain of Thessaly, which stretches 
away from the foot of Pelion and Ossa in one 
unbroken reach to the distant heights of Trikalla. 
Past a few miserable villages, and scarcely more 
prosperous chiftliks, through field after field of 
stubble, and wide tracts of land lying fallow, 
with here and there a marshy swamp, the hroish- 
owJca jolts along for six weary hours towards 
the distant minarets which mark Larissa, and 
seem to recede phantom-like as we advance. 
But to all misery there is a term. By the time 
one has stuck his cramped extremities twenty 
times, first out of one, then out of the other, side 
of the strangely devised vehicle, in which there 
is room neither to sit nor to recline full length, 
but only to lie doubled up like a trussed fowl, 
our three horses put on a sudden spurt, and the 
giddy chariot bowls jauntily through the mud- 
gateway pierced in the mud-embankment which 
forms the entrance to Larissa, and threads its 
way amid mud-houses and mud-hovels through 
the tortuous streets of the capital of Thessaly. 



15 



CHAPTER IL 

THESSALY AND ITS CAPITAL. 

Nor is there much to repay the weariness of the 
journey when the capital of Thessaly is at last 
reached. With its mud - rampart, mud -walls, 
mud-houses, and a few whitewashed buildings, 
barracks, conaks, and mosques rising out of a 
yellow, treeless plain, it resembles nothing more 
than an Arab town of Upper Egypt shorn of its 
palm-trees and of the magic of its climate. To 
make the resemblance still more striking, there 
were groups of negroes squatting about the road 
just outside the gate through which we entered; 
for it was Friday afternoon, and the black popu- 
lation of Larissa had turned out in full festival- 
attire to bask in the autumnal sunshine — men, 
women, and children in gaudy Manchester cot- 
tons, contrasting strangely with their swarthy 



16 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

complexions. Larissa swarms with negroes, 
children and grandchildren of liberated slaves: 
many also have been brought here as slaves and 
have purchased their liberty or claimed it of late 
years from the authorities and foreign consuls 
in virtue of slave-trade treaties and recent legis- 
lation; while not a few are still in bondage. 
But it is only fair to say that Larissa is not, 
viewed at its best from either the Volo or the 
Salonica roads. As in other and fairer cities, 
the fashionable quarter of Larissa is the west 
end. There the Salemvria rolls its lazy, yel- 
lowish-green waters under a Byzantine bridge of 
five handsome spans ; a few trees grow along its 
banks ; and above them, on a solitary hillock, a 
picturesque old mosque, bedomed and bemina- 
reted. rising almost side by side with the Greek 
cathedral and the palace of the Despot or Arch- 
bishop of Larissa, two or three Government 
buildings, and a quaint, square clock-tower of 
Latin construction, form an imposing group, 
over which looms in the far distance the clean- 
cut angular peak of Ossa. Should the traveller 
wish to carry away with him a favourable im- 
pression of Larissa, let him halt here when the 



THESSALY AND ITS CAPITAL. 17 

last flush of sunset still lingers over the scene, 
and not court disenchantment by passing across 
the threshold of the town. Crooked, straggling 
streets, iU paved, and studded with yawning 
pits and pools ^f stagnant water ; rows of mud- 
walls; dirty, rickety bazaars, stocked with the 
refuse of the Manchester and Vienna markets, — 
form an ensemble than which none more dreary 
can well be found in the whole length and 
breadth of the Ottoman empire. Verily, if its 
name be correctly interpreted to mean "The 
Brilliant," what a falling ofl^ is here since the 
days when it deserved its title ! 

Yet Larissa is the capital of one of the rich- 
est provinces of the empire ; it counts between 
20,000 and 25,000 souls ; it is the residence of 
high civil and military functionaries ; it is the 
central entrepdt of the grain trade of the Thes- 
salian plains ; among its inhabitants are to be 
found some of the wealthiest landowners in 
Turkey ; and even in the humblest homesteads 
there is a degree of ease and comfort which 
would raise envy in many another country. 
But the incubus of Turkish misrule has par- 
alysed all wholesome activity and checked all 

B 



18 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

desire for improvement, and under the present 
circumstances the Turkish authorities have other 
things to think of besides reforms and public 
works. Every nerve has to be strained to pre- 
pare for the threatened campaign. Though, at 
the time of my visit, the forces collected in 
Thessaly were not numerically imposing (indeed 
they were weaker than a few months before, as 
a large number of time-expired soldiers, whose 
grumbling, or worse than grumbling, at long 
years of unpaid service, threatened to spread 
disaffection among the troops, had been weeded 
out and sent back to their homes, and their 
places not yet filled), the first and second ban of 
the reserves have since been called out, and 
Turkey must now have a seasoned army of 
40,000 men under arms in the province. But 
the real difficulties with which the Government 
has to grapple are of another and more stubborn 
order — viz., financial and administrative. Thes- 
saly, as I before stated, is one of the richest 
provinces of the empire. In good years its 
crops of wheat, barley, Indian com, and tobacco 
alone represent more than a miUion sterling. 
The tithes and muttons (as the tax on live stock 



THESSALY AND ITS CAPITAL. 19 

is called) bring in 200,000 liraSy and the local 
expenditure has been cut down within such 
narrow limits that the provincial revenue shows 
an annual surplus of 250,000 liras. Yet withal, 
the province is practically bankrupt. Constan- 
tinople devours all its wealth, and leaves to it 
only the burden of its debts. The sale of Crown 
property has been going on briskly since last 
summer. The principal purchaser has been 
Abram Pasha, the agent of the ex-Khedive at 
Constantinople, who is rapidly becoming one of 
the wealthiest landowners in Turkey. Large 
estates have also passed into the hands of native 
Greeks, as well as of Greeks from the Hellenic 
kingdom. Nearly half a million has been paid 
by the purchasers, but the provincial exchequer 
remains empty as heretofore, for the Porte swal- 
lows up every farthing of the purchase-money. 
To Government contractors alone the author- 
ities at Larissa owed in October last 150,000 
liras; and so absolutely had the uncertainty 
of the political situation and the unscrupulous 
financial measures of the present Grand Vizier 
destroyed the last vestige of local credit, that, 
instead of selling, as usual, the proceeds of the 



20 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

tithes (which are collected in kind), the Govern- 
ment was obliged to keep them in store in order 
to have wherewithal to feed the troops. Already 
maize was being served out to them in lieu of 
rice, because the contractors refused to renew 
the supplies on any terms save cash, and cash 
there was none to give. 

In Larissa itself the Greeks are in a minority, 
the proportion being about 13,000 Moslems to 
8000 Greeks and 3000 Jews. But in the whole 
district of Larissa — albeit that Larissa is, of all 
the districts of Thessaly, the one in which the 
Moslem or Turkish element is most strongly 
represented — the proportions are more than 
reversed. The following is a table of the popu- 
lations of Thessaly compiled from the most 
trustworthy sources : — 





Christians 
(Greeks). 


Moslems 
(Turks). 


Larissa, . 


. 65,000 


21,000 


Volo, . 


. 51,000 


4,000 


Trikalla, 


. 70,000 


3,500 


Karditza, 


. 48,000 


4,800 


Elassona, 


. 32,000 


6,500 


Pharsala, 


. 17,000 


4,000 


Armyro, 


. 9,000 


2,500 



292,000 45,300 



THES8ALY AND ITS CAPITAL. 21 

To these 292,000 Christians and 45,300 Mus- 
sulmans must be added some 6000 Jews, thus 
forming for Thessaly a grand total of 343,300 
souls. 

The Christians of Thessaly, with the excep- 
tion of about 20,000 Wallachs in the district of 
Elassona, as many in the district of Trikala, 
and a sprinkling of the same race in the north- 
ern villages of the district of Larissa, are all 
Greeks, and they exhibit most of the qualities 
as well as most of the defects of the Hellenic 
race. Especially in the towns, they are intelli- 
gent, industrious, pushing, and gifted with a 
rare commercial instinct. The whole commerce 
of Thessaly, which even now exceeds £600,000 
per annum for imports and exports alone, apart 
from local trade, is in their hands. The few 
native industries of the province, such as cot- 
ton and woollen tissues, dyed stuffs and prints, 
shawls, and carpets, many of them showing 
fairly good taste and workmanship, are almost 
without exception Greek or Wallach. The 
schools, which have been founded and developed 
throughout Thessaly principally by patriotic 
donations from without, have already begun to 



22 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

rouse among the younger generations that in- 
nate love of learning which is one of the best 
features of the Hellenic race. At the present 
moment there are seventy-eight higher schools 
and sixty -one elementary schools in the pro- 
vince, where instruction— albeit of a very rudi- 
mentary nature — is given to upwards of 10,000 
children. It is at least a commencement, and 
many parents among the wealthier classes are 
thereby induced to send their children to com- 
plete their education in Greece, whence they 
return as doctors, engineers, architects, mer- 
chants, schoolmasters, &c., to stimulate others 
by their example and successes. Why is it that 
the Greek peasant of the plains, in spite of his 
indisputable material prosperity, seems to be 
stricken with a sort of moral and mental par- 
alysis ? No doubt misgovernment weighs 
heavily upon him, but it does not suffice to 
account for the phenomenon. The clue is to 
be found in the fact that " the rich and fertile 
plains of Thessaly, which are almost without 
exception chiftlik — i. e., freehold property of beys 
and others — were formerly village communes, 
confiscated and sold by Ali Pasha of Yanina at 



THESSALY AND ITS CAPITAL. 23 

the end of the last century ; and the peasants, 
who cultivate them now as tenants, are the 
descendants of the former proprietors, whose 
names have still adhered to many of their 
fields." — (Notes by Colonel Synge respecting the 
state of the Peasant Farmers in Thessaly. Par- 
Uamentary Blue-hook — Greece^ No. 1: 1880.) 
It is the memory of recent spoliation, not the 
oppression of the present landlords, which weighs 
down the peasant, which makes him treacher- 
ous, slothful, and vindictive, careless of small im- 
provements, and impatient for a radical change. 
It is easy to denounce the despotism of Mus- 
sulman landowners. But religion has nothing 
to do with the question. At the present day 
nearly a third of the land in Thessaly is owned 
by Christians, and up till lately the Turkish 
beys were better liked as masters than the 
Christian landowners. Possessing generally 
enormous estates, from which they derived far 
larger revenues than they required for their 
expenditure, the chief items of which arose from 
the profuse hospitality they exercised, they were 
not inclined to infringe upon the share oi the 
profits which accrues under the metayer system 



24 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

to the farmer. If the peasant was wronged 
or oppressed by Government officials, the influ- 
ence which the beys enjoyed with the local 
authorities was generally exercised on his behalf 
to procure redress, and not without success. 
The beys, in fact, knew full well the value of 
the hen which laid them golden eggs, and took 
proportionate care of it Of course, much de- 
pended upon the personal character of the bey ; 
but as a rule, and within certain limits, he 
was an easy-going master. The Christian land- 
owner, on the other hand, especially when an 
absentee, was harder to deal with. He had 
larger wants, and was therefore more grasping; 
he was more intelligent, and therefore niore 
fond of pestering for improvements; he was 
more exposed to the extortions of the Govern- 
ment, and therefore more anxious to recoup him- 
self upon the peasantry, while he was powerless 
to defend them against the abuses of those in 
authority. But of late years a great change has 
come over the attitude of the Turkish bey. 
Increased taxation, the constant demands of 
the Government for fresh loans, war con- 
tributions, and so-called voluntary gifts, the 



THESSALY AND ITS CAPITAL. 25 

rapacity of officials intensified by long arrears 
of pay, have weighed heavily upon him, and 
his hand has in turn been heavier upon the 
peasantry. Then recent political changes, the 
assertion of the rights of the Christian popula- 
tions of Turkey, and especially the Greek claim 
to Thessaly, have induced him gradually to 
look upon his Greek peasant as an impatient 
heir to his estates, and therefore as an enemy. 
Last year the cattle disease ravaged Thessaly; 
more than 30,000 head of oxen were carried off ; 
and the peasants, abeady reduced by two sue- 
cessive bad seasons, were unable to replace the 
oxen, without which their fields must lie fallow. 
But the bey, who had hitherto been generally 
ready to advance money to his farmers on rea- 
sonable terms, hardens his heart against them, 
and declines to loosen his purse-strings. " Who 
knows," he says, " what is going to happen ? 
You will repay me next year ? But perhaps by 
next year we may all have been turned out of 
Europe : will you follow me then to Asia to 
repay my loan ? My estates suffer ? Let them 
suffer ; who knows how long they may yet be 
mine 1 " There are, however, indications that 



26 . 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

this feeling is but a transient and pardonable 
ebullition of ill-temper. After the decisions of 
the Berlin Conference first became known, there 
was a good deal of tall talk about local resist^ 
ance. But that soon died away. Then the 
beys declared that they would sell their lands 
and emigrate en masse. A few, very few, did 
so. Most of them thought better of it, know- 
ing full well that their property could only gain 
in value by the change. Probably many of 
them will leave the country for a time should 
it actually pass into the possession of Greece, 
but they will retain their estates, and leave 
them in charge of Greek agents. This would 
not by any means satisfy the peasant. It is 
not the present state of the land laws which 
provokes his hostility. The mStayer or part- 
nership system, under which most of the estates 
are farmed, is a very simple one, and not unfa- 
vourable to the tenants. The proprietor of the 
estate furnishes the land, house, and seed to the 
tenant-farmer, and the latter is obliged to find 
the labour, oxen, and instruments. No written 
contract is entered into between them; and whUe 
the landlord has the right to discharge the ten- 



THESSALY AND ITS CAPITAL. 27 

ant at his pleasure, the tenant is equally free to 
depart when he chooses. But evictions are very 
rare: and the landlord is forced, by the scarcity 
<. labour .od the .b«nce of Jhinery to Z 
place it, to make every possible concession in 
order not to lose his tenants. According to 
the metayer system, the produce of the farm is 
divided into two equal portions between the 
landlord and the tenant, after first deducting 
the seed furnished by the landlord and the tithe 
due to the Government. In some estates where 
the seed is furnished by the tenant, he even 
takes two-thirds of the produce, leaving only 
one for the landlord. No doubt the position of 
the peasantry is aggravated where the landlord 
lets out the whole property to a middleman, or 
multazim, who derives what revenue he can 
out of it by subletting it. But the multazirnJs 
exactions never impoverish him so much as the 
enforced idleness of the many feast-days pre- 
scribed by the Church. So numerous indeed 
have they become, that his working days — ^mak- 
ing no allowance for detention by weather or 
sickness — are limited to less than 200. "The 
agent of the largest proprietor in Thessaly," says 



28 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

Colonel Synge, " informed me that he made 
a bargain with the labourers employed on his 
estates for 58 feast-days per annum, besides Sun- 
days ; and," he adds, " there is little doubt that 
these days of idleness, and frequently of drunk- 
enness, are one of the great drawbacks to the 
prosperity of the country." 

It is not the wrongs which he suffers at the 
hands of his landlords which make the Greek 
peasant yearn for union with the Hellenic king- 
dom. It is, that he sees in that consummation 
the prospect of the reopening of the whole 
question of land tenure in Thessaly. He treas- 
ures up not only the memory of the past, when 
his ancestors owned the land which he now tills 
as a hired labourer, but in many cases the very 
title-deeds of their property ; and he looks for- 
ward to the day when Greek annexation shall 
restore life to the dead letter of the musty 
parchments, and the landlord shall be evicted 
in favour of the farmer. Though such hopes 
are undoubtedly doomed, under all circumstan- 
ces, to disappointment, they have been ofteu 
encouraged by unscrupulous agitators to stir 
up the popular passions. But the weapon is a 



THESSALY AND ITS CAPITAL. 29 

double-edged one, and cuts both ways. The 
hopes which allure the farmer are construed by 
the landlord into a threat. The Mussulmans are 
naturally opposed to a change which would rob 
them, at least in a great measure, of their privi- 
leges and power ; but the Christian proprietors 
would be equally opposed to a change which 
might rob them of their broad acres. It is not, 
however, the sympathies or inclinations of one 
or other section of the population which will 
decide the fate of Thessaly, as neither the one 
nor the other seems disposed to shape it by their 
own action. Supineness is the chief charac- 
teristic of Mussulmans as well as Christians. 
There is on both sides great eagerness to know 
what is going to be done for them or with them, 
but very little eagerness to do anything for 
themselves. The chief feeling, indeed, through- 
out the crisis has been — " Let things end as 
they may, but for God's sake let there be an end 
to the present intolerable uncertainty." 



30 



CHAPTER III. 

UNDER THE SHADOW OP OLYMPUS. 

Notwithstanding the kind hospitality which 
I enjoyed at Mr Long worth's, H.M.'s Vice- 
Consul, I had not been many days at Larissa 
before I felt the keenest anxiety to depart from 
it. I had been interviewed by the leading 
members of the various communities, who were 
anxious to let me have their views on the polit- 
ical situation of the province. The iniquity of 
Moslem rule had been vigorously denounced 
over coffee and cigarettes by patriotic Hellenes. 
Coffee and cigarettes had inspired the eloquence 
of Turkish landowners protesting against the 
revolutionary tendencies of Greek annexation- 
ists. I had heard the naval demonstration ap- 
plauded and abused in turn, in terms quite as 
energetic as could be found in the columns of 



UNDER THE SHADOW OP OLYMPUS. 31 

Tory or Radical prints ; I had dined with the 
Greek Consul ; I had dined with the Governor ; 
I had dined with the Archbishop ; I had dined 
with the Commander-in-chief. The gaieties of 
Larissa began to pall upon me, and I determined 
to move on. The district which I was most 
anxious to visit was that which lies under the 
western slopes of Mount Olympus, and through 
which runs the only practicable road between 
Thessaly and western Macedonia. Nothing 
could exceed the courtesy and the alacrity dis- 
played by the Turkish authorities to assist me 
in carrying out my plans. But all the moun- 
tain regions of Thessaly were infested with 
brigands. Greece had freed her own provinces 
from this plague at the expense of the neigh- 
bouring provinces of Turkey, where she con- 
veniently discovered that the black sheep who 
were so unwelcome within her own borders, 
could be used with considerable effect to stir up 
the Greek populations and damage the little 
credit which Turkish rule might still enjoy in 
the eyes of Europe. To be captured by brigands 
is no doubt a novel and fascinating sensation : 
but excitement may be purchased too dearly, 



32 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

and I was not inclined to pay for it with the 
loss of my nose or my ears ; and I doubted 
whether a paternal Government would again 
show itself as lavish, even of other people's 
money, as when it paid £12,000 for the release 
of Colonel Synge and invited the Turkish 
Government to refund the amount. On the 
other hand, I did not like to ask the authorities 
for a small army to accompany me on an excur- 
sion of mere curiosity. It was here that Pro- 
vidence favoured me with one of those fortunate 
opportunities by which it seeks intermittingly 
to atone for its more frequent unkindness. I 
had brought from Constantinople a letter of in- 
troduction to Selami Pasha, the general officer 
then in command of the cavalry division in 
Thessaly, and it was at that time borne in upon 
the Sublime Porte that he should be transferred 
to the same duties in Macedonia. His Excel- 
lency's route lay through the region which I 
wished to visit, and he at once invited me to 
accompany him to Monastir. I accepted the 
invitation. 

Larissa, "The Brilliant,*' looked even more 
than usually squalid when I turned out of the 



UNDER THE SHADOW OP OLYMPUS. 33 

Consulate on the morning of the 30th of Sep- 
tember to join the Pasha. Heavy rain had been 
falling throughout the night: it lay in the 
streets in large black flakes; it ran down the 
mud -walls of the mud -houses; it dripped in 
heavy drops from the low tiled roofs ; it rushed 
dow^n the open drains of the miserable bazaars 
in turbid torrents, sweeping before it the ac- 
cumulated filth of weeks ; it hung in lowering 
clouds over the town, shutting out the only 
redeeming feature of the landscape, the prospect 
of the classic mountains which surround the 
plain of Thessaly. The Pasha's orderly, who 
came round to fetch me, told me that his Ex- 
cellency was ready, and waiting for me to start. 
But the word " ready " has in Turkish a most 
elastic sense, varying according to the intona- 
tion from the immediate present to a somewhat 
indefinite future. It was evidently the latter 
signification which attached to it in this case ; 
for when I entered the courtyard of the Pasha's 
house, I found him sitting with a crowd of other 
oflBcers on piles of baggage, waiting, not for me, 
but fot his pack-animals. Compliments, cigar- 
ettes, and coffee helped, however, to while away 

c 



34 'tVVIXT greek and TURK. 

the time. In the course of about an hour the 
animals put in an appearance. In the course of 
another hour we were, one after another, robbed 
of all our seats, and the caravan was finally pro- 
nounced ready in the fullest sense of the word. 
With a great show of haste and clatter of hoofs 
we trotted through the town, bespattering with 
mud the Greek merchants, who scowled at the 
military uniforms from behind their counters, 
and drawing to the windows and doorways re- 
spectable Jewish matrons, forgetful, in the hurry 
of the moment, of their matrimonial wigs, and 
dark-eyed Moslem ladies with tantalising veils, 
and sallow-faced Greek girls without. Presently 
we crossed the bridge over the Salemvria, and 
halted for a few minutes in the plain beyond to 
take leave of the chief officials and inspect the 
troops, who were drawn up in honour of the 
departing Pasha. Four battalions of infantry, 
two squadrons of cavalry, and four batteries of 
artillery had turned out for the occasion. The 
uniforms were patched and soiled, the horses 
small and ill -matched, but the men looked 
resolute and workmanlike enough. The troops, 
indeed, presented rather the appearance of hav- 



UNDER THE SHADOW OP OLYMPUS. 35 

ing just returned from a campaign than that of 
an army preparing to encounter its hardships. 
The Pasha accomplished the review in a rather 
perfunctory manner. More coffee and cigarettes 
were consumed, and then the band struck up 
the Imperial hymn, and we cantered away across 
the plain. Our party was now considerably 
reduced — the pack-animals had forged their way 
ahead, and there were only five oflBcers in the 
Pasha's suite; but we were preceded, accom- 
panied, and followed by an escort of fifty cava- 
liers, whose Winchester repeaters were better 
calculated to inspire respect than Foreign Office 
passports or vizierial houyourouldus. 

Past the large village of Tirnowa and a clus- 
ter of other Mussulman villages nestling among 
maple -trees, mulberries, and vineyards at the 
foot of the Karad^r^ gorge, our route lay through 
the steep defile of Jd!elouna to the first of the 
three mountain plateaux which rise, terrace-like, 
under the western flank of Mount Olympus, up 
to the central ridge of the Kambouni. Neither 
Kiepert's nor the Austrian staff map seems to 
convey a very correct impression of the orog- 
raphy of this important district. Far from be- 



36 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

ing a confused alternation of hill and dale, it 
consists of three well-defined fan-shaped table- 
lands, rising one above the other like the steps 
of a gigantic staircase from the plain of Thes- 
saly towards the angle formed by the massif of 
Mount Olympus and the long wall-like range of 
the Kambouni; and to each of these plateaux 
access can alone be obtained through one narrow 
break in the successive ridges of limestone rock 
which severally fence them in. Up the Melouna 
pass we had now reached the crest of the first 
of these ridges. To the south the whole plain 
of Larissa lay mapped out at our feet to the 
distant hills of Dhomoko and the blue outline of 
the mountains which form the present bounda- 
ries of the Hellenic kingdom — towns, villages, 
and farms dotted about in patches of dark 
verdure and white houses over the vast reach of 
ploughed fields and rich pasture-lands, broken 
only here and there by the glistening waters of 
a swampy lake or the silver thread of the Pen- 
eus meandering lazily across the flat. Turning 
northwards, we seemed to have a reflection of the 
same view reduced to a smaller scale, — a fertile 
table-land rich with a plenteous harvest of maize. 



UNDER THE SHADOW OP OLYMPUS. 37 

which, owing to the difference of altitude, was 
here still waiting to be reaped ; broad bands of 
red earth where the wheat crops had already 
been cut; villages half hidden amid groves of 
walnut-trees and willows ; and at the farther 
extremity, under a rocky cliff such as that we 
had just scaled, the small town of Elassona. It 
is in this basin that the pure Wallach element 
begins. In Elassona itself there are, out of four 
or five hundred houses, perhaps one -third of 
Mussulmans; but in the other hamlets, and 
especially in the large neighbouring village of 
Tzaritzena, with its more than two hundred 
houses, the population is almost unmixed Wal- 
lach. Descendants they claim to be of the old 
Roman legionaries who colonised this region; 
and notwithstanding the influence of Hellen- 
ism, which has been during centuries of Turkish 
oppression their protector, their instructor, and 
their hope, both their language and their type 
are there to prove that they have no fam- 
ily affinity with the Hellenic Greeks. Hence, 
northwards into Macedonia pure Greeks are no 
longer to be found. All the communities which 
are included under that designation are Wal- 



38 'twixt greek and turk. 

lachs; or Romounoi, as they call themselves 
— Greco - Wallachs, as they are called by the 
Hellenes. 

Elassona was to be our resting-place for the 
night, and we made straight for the house of an 
Albanian Bey whose hospitality Selami Pasha 
had bespoken. We had scarcely established 
ourselves in the selamlik before the intermin- 
able procession of officials, officers, and notables 
made their appearance in the room to pay 
homage to the distinguished guest. This cere- 
mony was repeated wherever we halted, but 
I will not visit this daily infliction upon my 
readers. Ah uno disce omnes. First would ap- 
pear the Governor or the President of the muni- 
cipality, the civil " boss " of the place, in a very 
seedy official coat and Frankish boots of an 
extraordinary build; then the solemn Mufti, 
with a broad green turban, long white beard, 
and flowing garments ; and the Kadi or judge, 
with a white turban and brown kaftan^ gener- 
ally obese and asthmatic, having grown fat on 
the pickings which belong to his profession; 
then the minor fry of officials, with their arms 
more devoutly folded and their backs more 



UNDER THE SHADOW OF OLYMPUS. 39 

humbly bent as they descend in the official 
hierarchy ; then the religious heads of the Chris- 
tian communities, evidently rather ashamed at 
being caught by a foreigner in the act of cotoo- 
ing to the infidel ; and finally, the flood of 
notables, tall and short, stout and lean, dandi- 
fied and dirty. Christian and Mussulman, all 
beaming with brotherly love and anxious to 
tread on each other's toes. Each one as he 
enters rushes up to the Pasha and pretends to 
kiss the hem of his coat or the toe of his boot, 
upon which the latter says, " Istaghfar Allah I " 
(God forbid!) and the disappointed visitor re- 
tires with becoming alacrity to squat down in 
the best place which may still be left on the 
divan, or, failing that, upon the floor. The 
Pasha then inquires how things are getting on 
in the village or town, and a chorus replies that 
prosperity cannot fail to attend the sunshine of 
his Excellency's presence. The answer seems 
generally to be regarded as entirely satisfactory, 
for the Pasha relapses into conversation with his 
companions, or singles out one of his visitors to 
talk more practical business, and the rest sit in 
meditative silence awaiting the advent of cofiee. 



40 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

This part of the performance depends for its 
success on the number of coffee-cups which the 
establishment can produce : if there are thirty- 
visitors, and only three or four coffee-cups in the 
house, the relays are apt to drag. But no visitor 
dreams of leaving until he has had his cup of 
coffee, even as none think of remaining, except 
on special invitation, after having consumed 
their quantum. On this occasion, however, the 
solemnity of the proceedings was broken by the 
sudden irruption of a wild-looking individual 
with long hair and shaggy beard, whose naked 
limbs were wrapped in, but scarcely concealed 
by, a single dingy garment of coarse grey wool. 
He at once rushed up to the Pasha, kissed him 
on both cheeks, and, without asking by your 
leave or with your leave, proceeded to squat 
himself down between me and mine host. He 
was a Dervish, and Selami at once introduced 
him to me as belonging to the mendicant order 
of the Bedawi. He seemed inclined at first to 
scowl at the unbeliever ; but when I told him 
that I had seen the tomb of the founder of his 
order. Sheik Ahmed el Bedawi, at Tanta in 
Egypt, and had visited his spiritual chief at 



UNDER THE SHADOW OF OLYMPUS, 41 

Damascus, his heart rapidly warmed towards 
me, and he apologised with touching simplicity 
for his rudeness. He had been brought up from 
his childhood in a tekkeh or monastery in Bul- 
garia; but during the Russian war the Chris- 
tians of a neighbouring village had burned his 
tekkeh and murdered his father and mother, and 
he himself had been obliged to take refuge in 
flight. I somewhat warmly disclaimed, both in 
my own name and in that of Christians in gen- 
eral, all responsibility for such outrages ; upon 
which he gravely took both my hands in his, 
and fixing his deep-sunk, fervent eyes on mine, 
bade me, if my words were true, welcome in the 
name of God. My words were true; but the 
earnest voice and searching look of the Dervish 
of Elassona have often haunted me since, both 
awake and sleeping, with their pitiful reproach. 
After our visitors had been despatched, the 
evening meal was produced, and we soon dis- 
persed to seek our several quarters for the night. 
Mine had been selected in one of the Christian 
houses of the town. But I was not yet to 
enjoy my rest. No sooner had I installed 
myself than the premises were invaded by the 



42 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

Christian townsfolk, who evidently looked upon 
the jaded traveller as a mere machine for dis- 
pensing news, and were anxious to sound him 
upon certain points which they had not ventured 
to raise in the presence of the Turkish Pasha. 
The rumour had got abroad that I was a British 
Government official charged with the task of 
preparing for the transfer to Greece of the 
territories awarded to her by the Conference 
of Berlin. Though I vehemently disclaimed 
the invidious honour, my denial was received 
with scarcely disguised incredulity, and almost 
fierce were the queries as to how soon they 
were to become Greeks. But albeit the Hel- 
lenic influence was strengthened by the pres- 
ence of two Greek priests, there was not, I 
confess, the general enthusiasm at the prospec- 
tive change which I had been led in certain 
quarters to anticipate. The majority of my 
uninvited guests were Wallachs, and annexa- 
tion to Greece meant in their eyes freedom 
from Turkish rule, and, so far, a blissful con- 
summation. But the national feeling was 
strong among them. " We are a small nation,'' 
one of their spokesmen said, " and can scarcely 



UNDER THE SHADOW OF OLYMPUS. 43 

hope for independence : therefore, better be de- 
pendent upon the Greeks, whose tongue we 
understand and whose faith we share, than on 
Turks, who are strangers and spoilers in the 
land; but Wallachs we shall always remain." 

And this I hereafter found to be the prevail- 
ing feeling throughout the Wallach country. 
In the towns and larger villages, especially 
where priestly influence is strong, Hellenism is 
the fashion bred of preaching and of education ; 
but it is not deeply rooted. Among the people, 
especially among the peasantry and the shep- 
herd tribes, there is a strong national pride. 

Among the mountain shepherds there is even 
a secret fear of annexation to Greece, which the 
Turkish authorities have not been slow to work 
upon. Most of them are nomads, who, as soon 
as the winter snows settle down upon the moun- 
tains, leave their summer alps and drive their 
flocks down into the plains of Thessaly. Were 
Thessaly in other hands than Turkish, they are 
afraid of being cut off from these pasture-lands, 
which would soon be redeemed for cultivation 
by more civilised and industrious owners. One 
of their shepherd patriarchs said to me — " God 



44 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

gives us the mountain alps for our flocks in 
summer, and in winter the Government gives 
us the waste lands of the plain. What more 
could the King of Greece do for usV In 
the villages which have suffered more from 
Turkish oppression, it is the fear of military 
service, to which they are not liable under 
Turkish rule, which damps their Hellenic sym- 
pathies. And beneath all these motives of self- 
interest there lurks the consciousness of a dis- 
tinct origin and vague national aspirations. At 
the present moment they are too poor and 
cowed to assert themselves. But should they 
receive encouragement and assistance from 
without, should the Eoumanians be allowed 
time to push the propaganda which they have 
already initiated among them, I should not be 
surprised to see a Wallachian national move- 
ment spring up in these regions as strong and 
as unexpected, though perhaps just as little 
spontaneous, as, for instance, the Albanian 
movement. True, the whole power of the 
Greek clergy would be arrayed against it ; but 
the Bulgarians have already shown that among 
the populations of this peninsula, notwithstand- 



UNDER THE SHADOW OP OLYMPUS. 45 

ing ignorance and superstition, the pride of race, 
when once roused, bursts even the bonds of 
religious tutelage. 

Dawn was just brightening into daylight as 
our horses clattered through the streets of Elas- 
sona and scaled the precipitous cliflfs which 
rise like a wall over the last houses of the town. 
A narrow gorge, cleft by a mountain torrent, 
leads to the brow of this second ridge, and a 
more lovely view than that which awaited us 
on emerging from the ravine can scarcely be 
imagined. At our feet lay Elassona, its domes, 
minarets, and masses of green foliage still 
wrapped in the morning mist; over against 
us, on the other side of the defile, a quaint 
medieval monastery, said to be built on the 
foundations of an ancient Hellenic fortress ; 
before us, another stretch of table-land studded 
with villages, and orchards, and fields of maize, 
with a double background of purple mountains ; 
and close upon us, on the right, the giant but- 
tresses of Olympus, rising almost sheer from the 
plain, with dark patches of forest hanging here 
and there on the flanks of the mountain, and 
its lofty domes, already crowned with the first 



46 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

snows of winter, glowing under the crimson rays 
of the rising sun. Descending into the little 
plain of Eleutherochoros, we began to meet 
Wallach shepherds already driving their flocks 
down towards the south, — wild-looking fellows, 
tall and gaunt, with long, often flaxen hair 
waving about their shoulders; heavy, bony 
faces; aquiline noses strongly developed and 
well cut; rather prominent hairless chins; 
dressed in strange fragmentary woollen kilts 
and leggings, with perhaps a cloak more tat- 
tered still, thrown back toga-like over the left 
shoulder, — each one surrounded by a little 
army of pigs, that run grunting and stumbling 
between their master's legs, while he lavishes 
upon his cherished brood alternate cursings and 
blessings in the choicest Wallach. More than 
the Bulgar, more even than the Montenegrin, 
does the Wallach love his pigs ; never a Wal- 
lach village, never the merest hovel, without 
them; and when the shepherd wanders down 
to the pastures of the plain, with him they 
wander too, making music by the way. 

From the plateau of Eleutherochoros another 
small pass across a ridge of hills leads into that 



UNDER THE SHADOW OP OLYMPUS. 47 

of Wlacho Livada — a repetition on a somewhat 
larger scale of the two plateaux we had already 
crossed; the small town of Wlacho Livada, 
with nearly four hundred houses — the centre, as 
its name indicates, of this Wallach region — flying 
away to the north-east under Mount Chapka. 
In front of us the long chain of the Kambouni, 
varying between four and five thousand feet, 
marks the new line of frontier, — an unbroken 
wall of ironbound rocks, save for the deep de- 
pression which shows the entrance to the pass 
of Kirk Guetshid. The change of scene is sud- 
den and abrupt. After riding for three hours 
across the park-like plain, the traveller enters a 
deep and gloomy ravine. Lofty cliflfs of lime 
and sand stone rise on either side of the Saran- 
toporos to a height of 200 and 300 feet ; moun- 
tain-ash rich with red berries, stunted oak, and 
a score of different shrubs, grow, as it were, out 
of the live rock; and alongside the torrent — 
which, already swollen with the first autumnal 
storms, leaps and foams over huge boulders of 
rock — a rough track, broken here and there by 
landslips, now winds beside the tortuous bed of 
the stream, now climbs along the face of the 



48 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

precipice. After about two miles the gorge 
gradually expands, and, rising over a succes- 
sion of undulating meadow-lands, we reached the 
watershed, the frontier between Greece and Tur- 
key that was proposed by the Berlin Conference. 
Forsooth, a strategic frontier 1 — behind us the 
gorge of Kirk Guetshid, and in front of us a 
sheer precipice falling away into the valley of 
the Vistritza and the plains of Macedonia. To 
descend from the mouth of the gorge is impos- 
sible ; so we kept on along this lofty plateau for 
another two or three miles, and presently des- 
cried a cleft in the mountain-wall. The Turks 
call it Demir Kapou — the Iron Gate between 
Thessaly and Macedonia. 



41) 



CHAPTER IV. 

THROUGH WESTERN MACEDONIA. 

Through the massive limestone portals of the 
Iron Gate a steep zigzag, over which the ruins 
of a Venetian castle still mount guard, leads 
down to the Vistritza. The broad stream, which 
seems to carve for itself every year a fresh bed 
in the chalky soil, was easily forded, and on the 
opposite side a small party of horsemen were 
waiting to escort us to our night's quarters at a 
large Albanian chiftliky belonging to a cousin of 
Selami Pasha. A short canter over undulating 
downs, intersected by deep seams of white chalk, 
brought us in half an hour to Pyrgos, a small 
hamlet consisting of some fifteen or twenty low 
mud-houses, amidst which stood out the solid 
square-built Greek chapel and the double-storeyed 
pied d, terre of the Albanian Bey. The landlord, 

D 



60 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

who happened to be spending a few weeks on 
his estate to superintend the payment of the 
tithes and the division of the year's harvests, was 
standing at the gate of the large courtyard ready 
to receive us and conduct us to our quarters. 
These were not, however, so easy to reach: they 
were situated in the upper part of the house, the 
basement being devoted entirely to storing pro- 
visions, grain, &c.; and the only access to our 
" residential flat " was up a rickety wooden lad- 
der, which had already lost several bars under 
the ravages of time, while those that had been 
spared seemed to be the favourite roosting-place 
of a numerous family of hens. At last, not- 
withstanding the resentful crowing of a pug- 
nacious cock, that step for step opposed the 
invading forces, we reached the spacious loft 
which had been fitted up for our reception. 
Bright carpets of many colours and piles of silk 
cushions contrasted strangely with the rough 
beams and rafters of the roof, black with smoke. 
But stranger still was the view from the win- 
dowless casements. A faint glimmer from the 
west still lighted up the mountain-wall over 
which we had descended from Thessaly, but 



THROUGH WESTERN MACEDONIA. 51 

the bed of the Vistritza and the intervening 
downs were veiled in a thick white mist. 
The courtyard beneath us was bright wuth 
half-a-dozen flaming fires, around which sol- 
diers, muleteers, and peasants squatted in pic- 
turesque groups, busy with gigantic spits, and 
pots and pans, for the preparation of the even- 
ing meal; while others were hurrying to and fro, 
tethering up the horses, piling up the baggage, 
or doing swift execution on batches of unfortu- 
nate sheep and screaming poultry. Above the 
hum of voices, Turkish, Greek, Albanian, Wal- 
lach, sounded the hungry barking of the village 
dogs, disturbed by the unwonted invasion, and 
excited by the even more unwonted smell of 
roasting viands. In about an hour's time our 
host, who had been busy awhile among the 
crowd below, stimulating them by word and 
example, announced that supper was at last 
ready, and lifting the carpet hangings which 
alone separated the two apartments into which 
the loft had been divided, led us to the banquet- 
hall. The table — i. e., a huge brass platter rest- 
ing on a low stool about fifteen inches high — 
stood in the centre of the room, and around it 



52 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

we squatted on the floor in true oriental fashion. 
Six statuesque Albanian youths, retainers of the 
house, held flaming torches above our heads, 
while others climbed nimbly up and down the 
ladder- staircase, balancing on their heads the 
ponderous dishes which had been prepared be- 
low. It was a truly Gargantuan repast, both 
for the number and the dimensions of the 
courses. To a huge bowl of a kind of mulli- 
gatawny soup succeeded the obligatory whole 
roast sheep ; and then, through a never-ending 
medley of entries^ sweets, roasts, more sweets 
and more entries, we at last came to anchor on 
a pyramidal pilaw, the proper function of which 
in a Turkish dinner appears to be the filling up 
with rice of every nook and cranny that may yet 
have escaped the intrusion of more solid food, 
and the efiectual checkmating of all digestive 
operations. Cofiee, cigarettes, and ablutions 
were wholly unequal to dispel the lethargy 
superinduced by hard riding and harder eating, 
and we soon curled ourselves up in cloaks and 
quilts, to sleep, and snore, and dream away the 
indigesta moles of our feast. 

The sun was already streaming over the silver 



THROUGH WESTERN MACEDONIA. 53 

domes of Mount Olympus when our host threw 
open the wooden shutters of our casement and 
let in the crisp morning breeze ; but as we had 
only a short day's work before us, there was no 
need to hurry. So, while the horses were being 
leisurely saddled, I sauntered over the chiftlih of 
Pyrgos. It gave its name to one of five sim- 
ilar estates belonging jointly to three Albanian 
brothers. The lands attached to it consisted 
of about 2000 donoums, or 1400 acres. These 
lands were farmed, as in Thessaly, on the mSlayer 
system, and provided work and occupation for 
fifteen families, whose houses composed the 
chiftlik. There were twenty -five adult male 
labourers, and altogether one hundred and 
twelve souls on the estate. Thirty-five pairs 
of oxen, the property of the chiftgis or peasantry, 
were used for farming purposes, the whole of 
the land being devoted to agriculture. The 
soil, though light, was generally fertile, as there 
was nowhere any lack of water : barley, wheat, 
oats, cotton-wool, and Indian corn were grown 
in the usual rotation, one acre in three being 
allowed to lie fallow every year, in order to 
prevent the exhaustion of the soil. Manure 



54 'twixt greek and turk. 

was never used, except as fuel. Yet the land- 
lords' share of the profits, after deductions for 
tithes and taxes, generally exceeded 1000 liras 
a-year ; and as the same amount accrues under 
the metayer system to the farmers, the share of 
each household (consisting of seven souls) could 
not be set down at less than sixty liras (£54), 
— an income which, considering their modest 
wants and the cheapness of all necessaries of 
life, certainly represents a larger measure of 
comfort and prosperity than falls to the lot of 
many other groups of peasantry living under 
the paternal rule of more civilised Governments. 
Nor are these exceptional or specially selected 
figures. Throughout this part of Macedonia I 
found the farmers on the various estates which 
I visited very evenly circumstanced, and satis- 
fied, as they well might be, with their condition. 
Much, of course, depends upon the personal char- 
acter of the landlord or agent ; but tlie interest 
of the latter alone operates effectually to check 
any tendency to short-sighted oppression. Chris- 
tian villages are as a rule more flourishing than 
Moslem villages, as they escape by the payment 
of a comparatively trifling poll-tax the curse of 



THROUGH WESTERN MACEDONIA. 53 

the conscription, which has of late years entirely 
drained some of the latter of all their adult male 
labourers. 

From Pyxgos we made a short detour to visit 
a chiftlik belonging to Selami Pasha himself, — 
a pretty little hamlet ensconced among walnut- 
trees and apple-orchards on the banks of a bright, 
bubbling stream. Our visit was entirely unex- 
pected, and almost all the population had turned 
out to work in the fields; but the Pasha wp^s 
soon surrounded by a small host of children, 
who kissed his hands and curtseyed in the most 
approved fashion at the bidding of an ancient 
village priest. But the news of our arrival was 
soon bruited about, and presently the peasants 
came flocking in to do homage to their lord with 
much wasting of gunpowder. Every one, too, 
had his own tale to tell and his own grievance 
to set forth, and to every one the Pasha listened 
with unvarying good-humour, giving the agent, 
who was in attendance, orders to remedy such 
complaints as appeared reasonable, and dismiss- 
ing the more futile petitioners with a gentle 
joke, to which the bystanders never failed to 
rise. It was evident that here at least the 



56 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

peasants did not look upon themselves as the 
victims of grinding oppression. Village justice 
having been dispensed under the walnut-tree, 
we were free to devote the rest of the morning 
to pleasure, and the Pasha ordained that pleas- 
ure should take the form of sport ; for, on the 
strength of two handsome pointers — ^who, how- 
ever, never pointed — and of a gorgeous double- 
barrelled breech-loader rich with gold and silver 
chasings, his Excellency considered himself to 
be a mighty hunter before the Lord. Un- 
fortunately, the hares and partridges were al- 
ways too quick or too slow for him, and obstin- 
ately declined to get in the way of his shot : so, 
although there was no lack of game, the only 
trophies which we finally brought back from 
our expedition were two pigeons which the 
Pasha carefully stalked and potted in an olive- 
tree, and a healthy appetite for our noonday 
meal. 

In the afternoon a few hours' ride over undu- 
lating uplands studded with Wallach villages, 
and vineyards still rich with grapes, brought us 
to Kosana, a pleasant little city of some 7000 
souls, celebrated for its excellent vintages. The 



THROUGH WESTERN MACEDONIA. 57 

wines of Kosana are perhaps better known to 
English readers than they wot of ; for it is one 
of the grands crAs of Macedonia, and during 
the last few years a considerable quantity has 
been exported vid Salonica to Bordeaux, where 
it is converted, by the simple process of diluting, 
bottling, and labelling, into " light and whole- 
some " claret for the British market. The pack- 
animals and the greater part of the escort had 
been despatched in the morning direct to Kos- 
ana ; and the good people of the town, thus fore- 
warned of the Pasha's approach, had had full 
time to make preparations for his reception. 
About a mile from the town the officials and 
municipality and a detachment of the garrison 
were drawn up in solemn array, and a little 
farther on the Greek Archbishop and three 
ecclesiastical dignitaries of his household came 
ambling gently towards us on confidential 
mules. His reverence was an old friend of 
the Pasha; and as soon as the latter caught 
sight of him, he dismounted to receive him with 
proper respect. To have witnessed the cordial 
meeting of the two kindly old gentlemen, as 
they stood hugging each other in the muddy 



S8 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

road, and lavishing on each other all the pious 
formulas of the Christian and Mussulman greet- 
ing, would have strangely astonished our holy 
fanatics at home, whose charity endureth all 
things, save Turks. We were to enjoy the 
bishop's hospitality for the night; and our 
motley cavalcade soon threaded its way through 
the narrow streets of the town to the quaint 
old episcopal palace, where Greek maidens be- 
sprinkled us with rose-water from the overhang- 
ing windows as we rode through the gate into 
the spacious courtyard. The palace ran round 
three sides of this court, which was overlooked 
by a double arcade, the lower one resting on 
handsome Corinthian columns, the spoils of some 
ancient edifice ; while the fourth side opened 
into a bright little garden, beyond which the 
view extended over vineyards and fields to the 
blue line of distant mountains over against 
Thessaly. 

Kosana is the last purely Wlacho-Greek town 
in Macedonia. Northwards the Wallachs are 
henceforth only found interspersed with Alban- 
ians, Turks, and Bulgarians, and generally in a 
minW H^ 4 - stm uoxaixed with 



THROUGH WESTERN MACEDONIA. 59 

any other nationality ; and on the wall of the 
bishop's reception-room there hangs an ancient 
map, dating from the last century, on which 
Kosana is marked in large letters as one of the 
chief towns of Roumania, that name being ap- 
plied not to Moldo Wallachia, but to the region 
I was j ust crossing from Larissa to the Lake of 
Ostrovo, twenty miles south of Monastir. But 
now the name is contemned or forgotten ; and 
though in the 900 houses of this city there are 
scarcely twenty where around the family fire- 
side any other language is spoken than the old 
Latin-sounding Wallach, the prosperous towns- 
folk would be deeply hurt if any doubt were 
hinted as to the genuineness of their Hellenism. 
For clerical influence is strong here — strong not 
only with the strength of ecclesiastical author- 
ity, but with that greater strength which it de- 
rives from the devotion of the population to the 
venerable old prelate who has lived and done 
good amongst them for upwards of forty years. 
An exception among his class, he has Hellenised 
his flock not only by schools and sermons, but 
by kindness and uprightness. The overbearing 
grasping character of the Greek clergy has too 



60 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

often undone the work of Hellenisation wrought 
in the schoolroom and the pulpit. Here the 
contrary has been the case ; and there is there- 
fore little cause for wonder if in the whole 
Wallach region there is no stancher bulwark of 
Hellenism than Kosana. But the Hellenism 
of its inhabitants is not of the heroic kind. 
Like most towns in Turkey which are entirely 
or preponderatingly Christian, they have had 
little to suflfer from Turkish rule. A Turkish 
oflScial generally finds that it pays best to be on 
good terms with the majority of the population ; 
and so, where the Christians largely preponder- 
ate, he makes friends for the nonce with the 
mammon of unbelief. In Kosana it is the bish- 
opric which really governs the town ; and the 
authorities are well content that it should be so. 
For the inhabitants pay their taxes regularly, 
with sometimes a little douceur over and above ; 
and if their sympathies are Panhellenic, they 
always restrain them within the most Platonic 
bounds. So little, in fact, does the Government 
fear intrigues or disturbances on their part, that 
it has lately distributed arms among the popu- 
lation of the town and the surrounding villages 



THROUGH WESTERN MACEDONIA. 61 

to defend themselves against the brigands. A 
more united family, the bishop assured me, 
could not be found, than the medley of priests 
and oflBcials, Christian notables and Moslem 
divines, who gathered in the evening round the 
episcopal table, and drowned their sectarian 
differences in deep draughts of Kosana wine. 
Under its influence even my neighbour — an 
ascetic and toothless Archimandrite, who at 
first evidently viewed the proceedings with 
grave doubts as to their orthodoxy, and occa- 
sionally relieved his mind by whispering with a 
grim sardonic smile the name of Gladstone into 
my ear, as if it were a charm to exorcise evil 
spirits — relaxed into a more jovial humour, and, 
after the customary toasts had been disposed of, 
insisted upon drinking the health of every guest 
present in separate bumpers. 

Kain was falling in torrents the next morning, 
and it was decided to postpone our start till noon. 
But even before that hour the weather had cleared 
up, and the sun gleamed through the clouds, light- 
ing up the bright groups of quiet townsfolk who 
thronged the streets as we rode out of the town ; 
for it was Sunday, and church-time being over, 



62 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

there was nothing for the Kosanlis to do but to 
loiter about the streets and show oflf their holi- 
day attire, — a task of love, which the gentler 
sex especially performed with much success, one 
dark -eyed damsel fairly taking my heart by 
storm, as, whipping off her little red high-peaked 
shoes in order not to soil them in the puddles, 
she tripped across the street and pelted me with 
rose-leaves. Outside the Greek schoolhouse the 
children of both sexes were drawn up in full 
battle array, under the command of masters and 
mistresses, and greeted us as we passed with the 
Sultan's anthem, — a healthy, bright-faced little 
army, whose joyous voices could still be heard 
carolling behind us as we wound over the hills, 
through acres and acres of vineyards. The 
country which we now traversed was an un- 
dulating table-land, flanked on either side by 
ranges of hills running north and south perpen- 
dicularly to the frontier chain of the Kambouni. 
The fields looked fairly well cultivated, each 
being divided off from its neighbour by neatly- 
piled-up walls of loose stones. Small hamlets, 
which a minaret or the whitewashed dome of a 
veil generally marked as Turkish, nestled among 



THROUGH WESTERN MACEDONIA. 63 

trees in the shallow depressions of the plateau ; 
and here and there a ruinous tower recalled the 
days when the dereheys held lawless sway over 
the land. Four hours' heavy riding, over tortu- 
ous tracks which the night's rain had converted 
into quagmires, brought us to our destination, — 
a large Mussulman village called Kailar — or 
rather, as its plural termination indicates, two 
villages grown into one. Kailar has made no 
special mark in history ; but it is not without a 
certain fame in the surrounding country, and I, 
or rather my horse, felt a peculiar interest to 
reach it — for the unfortunate animal had been 
badly shod before leaving Larissa; and when- 
ever I remonstrated on the subject with Hassan 
Tchaoush, whom Selami had told oflf to be 
my groom-in-waiting during the journey, that 
worthy sergeant had invariably answered : "Ah, 
Eflfendi! just wait till we get to Kailar : that's the 
place to have the horses shod. Wallah ! there 
are no smiths in the world like unto the smiths 
of Kailar." Many towns and districts in Turkey 
thus have their speciality. The Albanians of 
Dibra are reputed as wood-cutters ; the Bulga- 
rians of Kezanli are celebrated gardeners ; mon^ 



64 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

astic Zitza furnislies the country with hanjis or 
ostlers; Kailar, it seems, is renowned for its 
smiths. Whether they be worthy of their fame 
is a point on which I must refer the reader to 
my faithful Eosinante. 

The next morning we were off betimes ; and 
in order to make up for the half-day we had lost 
9.t Kosana owing to the rain, we had to give up 
making the detour to Wlacho-Klissura, which 
Selami Pasha had originally proposed to take 
on our way, in order to enable me to visit the 
centre of the Eoumanian propaganda among 
the Wallachs of Macedonia. Our route lay, as 
on the preceding day, over narrow undulating 
plains, flanked on either side by mountains; 
and, save that we were entering the Bulgarian 
region, and that, as we progressed northward, 
Bulgarian villages steadily preponderated over 
Turkish and Wallach, there were few features of 
interest to mark the journey. About three hours 
from Kailar, the Lake of Ostrovo came into sight. 
A century ago, fields and meadows and flourish- 
ing villages were to be seen where now lies a 
long sheet of dark-blue waters, reflecting, like a 
mirror, the barren slopes of Mount Bermius, which 



THROUGH WESTERN MACEDONIA. 65 

overhang its eastern shores. The long plateau 
which we had followed ever since leaving Kosana, 
sinks steadily towards the north until it is barred 
by a ridge of hills running across from east to 
west. The depression thus formed was former- 
ly drained by a stream, which lost itself, no 
one knew whither, underground. But an earth- 
quake, or some other cause, suddenly blocked 
up the channel, and the waters which ran down 
from the surrounding heights, failing to find an 
exit, accumulated in the hollow, and covering 
acre after acre of ground, and swallowing up 
hamlets and villages, have finally formed a lake, 
which is now nearly twelve miles in length and 
two in breadth. It is still slowly rising, inch by 
inch and year by year ; and unless it can once 
more force open a subterranean passage for its 
waters, it must inevitably continue to rise until 
it reaches the level of the plateau which divides 
it off from the basin of the Vistritza. How 
many more prosperous homesteads, how many 
more acres of fertile land, will ere then be 
buried under the placid surface of its relentless 
waters 1 

After halting for our mid-day rest at a pretty 

E 



•; 



66 'twixt greek and turk. 

Tdosh built by the late Abdi Pasha on the banks 
of the small lake of Petersgrad, we paid a visit 
to the large Bulgarian chiftUk, where the eccen- 
tric old Turk used to come down every year 
and superintend, with much joyous carousing, 
the making of his wines. Ten gigantic casks, 
each holding 1000 okes of wine, were annually 
filled with the best vintages for the use of his own 
house. Over the crest of a low range of hills, we 
at last began to descend into the plain of Monas- 
tir ; but though the lofty peak of Mount Peristeri 
marked the spot where the city lay, the day was 
too far advanced for us to reach it before nightfall. 
So, winding along the spurs of the eastern chain 
of mountains which flank the plain, we brought 
up for the night at the pretty little village of 
Raduwicz, the property of the three Albanian 
brothers whose hospitality we had already en- 
joyed at Pyrgos after our second day's journey. 
Raduwicz occupies, according to local tradition, 
the site of an ancient Greek town ; but besides 
the fact that there never can have been room 
for a town in the narrow valley where it lies, 
cramped up between two spurs of Mount Nidje, 
no place of importance appears to be mentioned 



THROUGH WESTERN MACEDONIA. 67 

in this locality. Possibly the tradition has been 
invented to enhance the value of one or two 
Greek relics which have been unearthed by the 
villagers. The headman of Raduwicz insisted 
that I should see the arUicas. No European 
had ever yet visited Raduwicz, and I was there- 
fore bound to give my opinion on them. So I 
trudged with my guide up the hillside to a small 
Bulgarian church, where I was shown a stone 
let into the pavement, which bore a Greek in- 
scription. It was, however, so worn by the long 
trafl&c of pious feet, that I was quite unable to 
decipher it ; but I saw that the stone had been 
considerably mutilated in order to fit it into its 
place. A fossil papas, who was kind enough 
to try and throw some light on the subject by 
holding the altar lamp over me, fissured me that 
it was an excellent stone for exorcising evil 
spirits, but that it was useless to attempt to 
read the inscription, as it was written in the 
devil's language. So I retired. The other 
antica was a medallion let into the wall of a 
farmyard, showing the heads of two youths 
in relief, with the fragmentary inscription tov 
KVKvWov ; but the marksmen of Raduwicz had 



68 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

evidently selected the unoflfending youths as a 
target, and their faces were so disfigured that it 
was impossible to judge of the artistic value of 
the workmanship. 

Only a faint streak of light over the eastern 
hills heralded the approach of day as we set out 
the next morning to complete the last 4tape of 
our journey ; but the sun was already high in 
the heavens before we reached the imperial road, 
which leads, or ought to lead, were it only com- 
pleted in the middle, from Salonica to Monastir, 
and following the broad avenue of poplars, soon 
found ourselves in the large square of stately 
barracks which mount guard over the entrance 
to the city. 



69 



CHAPTER V. 

THE VILAYET OP MONASTIR. 

t 

A PRETTY little city is Monastir. At the foot 
of the defile which leads from Macedonia into 
central Albania, backed by bold and lofty moun- 
tains already capped with winter snows, it lies 
half buried amid foliage in an emerald-green 
valley ; graceful domes and minarets, stately 
barracks, and clusters of bright white houses, 
hedged in with dark-green walnut-trees and 
glistening silver poplars and orchards rich with 
all the varied hues of autumn, while bubbling 
streams fresh from their alpine homes leap 
merrily through its sunny streets and pictur- 
esque bazaars. In its crowded thoroughfares 
may be met all the motley costumes of Euro- 
pean Turkey,— the fair-haired Bulgarian envel- 
oped in his shapeless grey cloak and hood, the 



70 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

gaunt slouching WaUax^h shepherd in his grimy 
fustanella, the proud Albanian highlander brist- 
ling with pistols and daggers, the squaUd Iberian 
Jew, the sharp-eyed Greek merchant in seedy 
European clothes, the solemn beturbaned Turk in 
flowing kaftan ; for Monastir — or, as the Chris- 
tian prefers to call it, Bitolia — is the meeting- 
point of many nations. Ag on most Macedonian 
cities, the curse of many tongues, and many 
races, and many creeds, has fallen heavily upon 
it. With a population which certainly does not 
exceed 35,000 souls, and which some put down 
at little over 25,000, it boasts nearly a dozen 
different communities, with separate aspirations, 
separate interests, and separate hatreds. There 
are Bulgarians who speak Bulgarian, and have 
joined the Bulgarian schism; there are Bul- 
garians who speak Bulgarian and share the 
political aspirations of the schismatics, but have 
not yet thrown off" their allegiance to the Greek 
Patriarchate ; finally, there are Bulgarians who 
have been so far HeUenised as to speak the 
Greek tongue in preference to their own, and 
profess the Hellenic creed, both religious and 
political — but their number is small, and daily 



THE VILAYET OF MONASTIR. 71 

diminishing. Then there are the Greeks, who 
are, it is true, Greek only in name ; for, with 
the exception of the archbishop and the Hellenic 
consul, there is scarcely a family in Monastir 
that can lay claim to pure Greek blood. They 
are Wallachs; and among them, again, there is a 
large and growing section which still speaks its 
own tongue in preference to Greek, and has dis- 
tinct national aspirations outside of Hellenism. 
The Mussulman community is scarcely more 
homogeneous : there are Albanians who still hold 
with the Porte, but the greater number look 
only to its support as the means to an end — ^the 
vindication of their own independence. Mon- 
astir especially is eloquent with memories of 
Turkish treachery scarcely calculated to stimu- 
late the devotion of the Albanians to the empire. 
It was here that in 1830, after the Greek war 
of independence, Eeshid Pasha invited some 
500 Albanian beys from northern and southern 
Albania to a banquet to celebrate the amnesty 
proclaimed by the Sultan ; and when they rose 
to leave the vizierial tent, two battalions of 
Turkish troops were drawn up to give them 
military honours : but instead of the order to 



72 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

present arms, the Grand Vizier gave out of his 
own mouth the word of command to fire. In 
a few moments the meadow, which the Alban- 
ians still call "The Field of Treachery/' was 
red with the best and noblest blood of Albania. 
Never an Amaut escaped from the foul ambush 
where Albanian independence was laid prostrate 
until the ferment of recent events galvanised it 
once more into life. The Turks themselves may 
be subdivided into two categories; the migra- 
tory and predatory officials — and the settled 
working classes, artisans, merchants, husband- 
men, &c., who, perhaps more than other sec- 
tions of the population, have what M. Gambetta 
calls the passion of peace, and yet are proba- 
bly destined henceforth to be the first victims 
of war. 

To obtain anything like accurate information 
as to the exact numbers of these various com- 
munities is a task of extreme difficulty, the art 
of cooking statistics having been carried here 
of late wellnigh to perfection. As an instance 
thereof I subjoin the statistics of the population 
of the city of Monastir, obtained from three 
authorised sources ; — 



THE VILAYET OF MONASTIR. V3 

GREEK RETURNS. 

Greek houses, 2166 

Bulgarian „ 529 

Mussulman „ . . . . (about) 2700 

Jews' „ , . . . (about) 800 

6186 

BULGARIAN RETURNS (approximate). 

Greek houses, 1200 

Bulgarian „ 2100 

Mussulman,, 2400 

Jews' „ 700 

6400 

TURKISH RETURNS. 

Christian houses (Greek and Bulgarian), . 2224 

Turkish „ 2327 

Jews' „ 625 

5176 

The Turkish returns unfortunately amalga- 
mate Greeks and Bulgarians, the Government 
distinguishing only between Christians who pay 
the military - exemption tax, and Mussulmans 
who are liable to active service. These statis- 
tics may, however, be generally trusted as fur- 
nishing the minima of the two communities, 
each being interested in reducing the returns 
as far as possible in order to elude on the one 
hand conscription, and on the other the payment 



74 'twixt greek and tcjrk. 

of the exemption-fee. The religious denomina- 
tion forms the basis of the Greek returns, the 
language spoken that of the Bulgarian returns, 
each being selected from a party point of view, 
with the object of establishing a claim to political 
supremacy. But of the two, there is little doubt 
that the latter are the least deceptive ; for there 
are few Bulgarophones who do not share Bul- 
garian national aspirations, while among those 
who still profess the orthodox Greek faith, most 
of the Bulgars and many of the Wallachs and 
Albanians have already abjured the political creed 
of their spiritual teachers. From various calcula- 
tions, I have arrived at the conclusion that the 
population at Monastir, apart from the Jews, 
may be divided into three nearly equal sections, 
the Mussulmans being slightly over one-third, 
another third being composed of Hellenised 
Wallachs and Bulgars, and rather less than a 
third consisting of Bulgarians. But take the 
whole vilayet of Monastir, or go further and 
take the whole province of Macedonia — namely, 
the four sandjahs of Monastir, Salonica, Drama, 
and Serres — and the proportions obtained will 
be very diflferent. Monastir is, at most, only 



THE VILAYET OP MONASTIR. 75 

a detached fort of Panhellenism. After leaving 
Kosana we lost sight completely of the Greco- 
Wallach element, all the villages along our road 
being either Turkish or Bulgarian; and the 
farther north or east one goes from here, the 
stronger the Bulgarian element becomes. To 
the west the confines of Macedonia are close 
at hand ; and yet even in the mountains which, 
bounding it in that direction, are the bulwarks of 
Albania, Bulgarians are to be met with in large 
numbers even as far as the Lake of Ochrida. 

The most striking, and at the same time the 
most melancholy, feature in Macedonia, is the 
bitter hostility of the Christian communities. 
Fanaticism no longer runs in the old groove — 
Christian versus Mussulman. The old enemy is 
moribund, and the young races are making ready 
to fight over his inheritance. The Congress of 
Berlin may have seen fit to overrule the Treaty 
of San Stefano, but in the eyes of the popula- 
tions of Macedonia it is still a living writing 
on the wall — to the Turks a sentence of exile 
and of death, to the Bulgarians the charter of 
their rights, to the Greeks and other Hellen- 
ising races a perpetual menace. The two rival 



76 ^TWIXT GREEK AND TURK. 

Christian races know the change is at hand; 
but how will it be finally shaped ? Is Hellenic 
civilisation, which, by its traditions, its schools, 
its ecclesiastical discipline, its influence with 
the conquerors themselves, has kept alive dur- 
ing so many centuries of servitude the sacred 
fire of liberty among the Christian popula- 
tions of the peninsula, to be sacrificed again to 
the uncouth despotism of northern barbarians, 
whose only strength is in their numbers and 
the friendship of a powerful neighbour? Are 
the Greeks, answers the Bulgarian — are a small 
minority in the land, who have traded ever 
since the invasion on the supineness of the 
conqueror, in order not only to share with 
him our spoils, but to impose upon us the 
arrogant rule of their alien prelates and alien 
schoolmasters — to rob us at the eleventh hour 
of our birthright, and substitute for the hap- 
hazard misrule of the Turk the tyranny of a 
crafty priesthood and its servile nominees ? It 
is not against the Turk that his worst invec- 
tives are now directed. Turkish ofl&cials are 
still too often unjust and grasping, as in the 
past ; the courts are still corrupt ; the hand of 



THE VILAYET OF MONASTIR. 77 

the Mussulman bey may still be heavy on the 
unbelieving rayah, — but the Bulgarian now de- 
tects in them qualities to which he was formerly 
purblind. He has a good word to say for the 
natural kindliness and hospitality of the rich, 
for the courage and patience of the soldier, for 
the industry and good-heartedness of the pea- 
sant Officials and landowners are not all as 
black as he used to paint them ; he finds ex- 
cuses for their faults — ay, even for their crimes. 
His most bitter denunciations are reserved 
for the Greek. For he is the rival whom he 
now most fears, and therefore most does hate. 
Mutatis mutandis, the Greek expresses in the 
same terms his hatred of the Bulgar, both 
agreeing that even Turkish rule is less intoler- 
able than would be that of the accursed rival. 

The Greek clergy has a heavy responsibility 
to bear for this disastrous estrangement, which 
is principally the outcome of its own intrigues. 
Using and abusing the power which he has 
hitherto wielded under Turkish rule as the recog- 
nised head of the Christian communities of the 
empire, the Greek bishop has too often worked 
not to cement the union of the various races of 



78 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

his flock in the fellowship of a common faith, 
but to promote, if not the meaner ends of per- 
sonal ambition, at aU events the narrow inter- 
est of a politico-ecclesiastical propaganda. The 
sudden awakening of the Bulgarian nation, the 
formation of a Bulgarian Church, were rude les- 
sons, pregnant with instructive warnings. But 
he has failed to conceive their meaning. Angry 
at the past, fearful for the future, he tries in 
vain to stem the torrent which has already car- 
ried away so much of his laborious edifice, and, 
like Xerxes of old, would fain flog it into obedi- 
ence. During the Eussian war, when the Turks 
were only too prone to angry suspicion, the 
Greeks were the first to inflame their most dan- 
gerous passions by denouncing to them as Eus- 
sian spies every Bulgarian who had joined or 
was suspected of joining the national Church. 
It was at the instance of the Greek Archbishop 
of Monastir that the Turkish Governor-General 
seized all the Bulgarian school-books in the 
vilayet ; it was at his solicitation that the schis- 
matic priests were driven out of the country, 
and that to the present day the Bulgarian Ex- 
arch of Monastir remains in semi-exile at Sophia, 



THE VILAYET OP MONASTIR. 79 

and the Bulgarian Church in this province is 
still disorganised, without a proper head or a 
proper constitution. Since the Berlin Congress 
gave Turkish rule in these regions a fresh lease 
of existence, the Greek clergy has redoubled its 
efforts to regain its wavering hold over the 
Christian populations. The powers placed in 
its hands by the constitution of the empire are 
strained at every point by unscrupulous prelates, 
whom the authorities are either too careless or 
too tolerant to check. Greek priests are forced 
upon Bulgarian villages, Greek schools are mul- 
tiplied all over the country, and the zaptiek's 
aid is enlisted in order to compel the attendance 
of Bulgarian children, who are required to swell 
Panhellenic statistics. Even brigandage is im- 
pressed into the service of the Orthodox Church. 
But all is of no avail. In spite of menaces, and 
deeds by which these menaces are too often 
translated into reality, every day fresh bodies of 
Bulgarians, fresh villages, drive out their Or- 
thodox priests and join the national schism. 
Many of them do so, indeed, with a sorry heart 
— excommunication has not yet lost all its ter- 
rors in this country. " But if we must choose," 



80 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

they say, "between the Patriarchate and our 
nation, our choice is already made. Let them 
make us schismatic ; we appeal to the mercy of 
our Lord God." And as soon as the new or- 
ganic statute or any other regime is introduced 
which shall allow the Bulgarian Church to be 
fully organised according to the rights conferred 
upon it by the imperial firman, the whole Bul- 
garian population will secede en massey and the 
already waning power of the Greek clergy, 
sapped by its own short-sighted policy, will fall 
ignominiously to the ground. 

The virulence of sectarian feeling, pregnant 
with the gravest dangers for the future of these 
regions, has already borne its baneful fruit in 
the growth and development of an evil, for 
which it would be difficult to find a parallel 
without going back to the days when the Frei- 
schaaren desolated Germany at the close of the 
Thirty Years' War. 

On both sides of the Vardar, from the borders 
of the principality of Bulgaria to the highlands 
of Albania and the mountain-chains of the Kam- 
bouni and Olympus, bands of brigands, thirty, 
fifty, and a hundred strong, drilled and armed 



THE VILAYET OP MONASTIR. 81 

with the best modern weapons, sweep over 
the country, rifling and burning villages, carry- 
ing oS prisoners for ransom, committing the 
most savage excesses, shedding blood in wanton 
cruelty, rendering the highways and byways of 
the province impracticable, and driving terror 
even into the heart of the towns. And the evil 
is steadily on the increase. Tempted by im- 
punity, frightened by threats, driven by despair, 
peasants are every day leaving their plough to 
take to the mountains. The fact is, brigandage 
here is the outgrowth not only of social disor- 
ders, but of the political situation. A series of 
bad crops, and consequent dearth, which last 
year amounted almost to famine ; the misery 
bred of the last war ; the stimulus given to all 
the worst passions of an ignorant population by 
the exacerbation of political and religious ran- 
cour ; the inefficiency of the police, whom want of 
pay and of discipline drive into complicity with 
the law-breakers ; the insufficiency of the army 
available for garrison duty ; the apathy or power- 
lessness of the local authorities, whose best in- 
tentions are frustrated by the constant blood- 
sucking of Constantinople,— have co-operated to 



82 'twixt greek and turk. 

engender brigandage : but it is by colouring his 
pursuit with patriotic pretences, by tempering 
his excesses with political considerations, that 
the brigand has succeeded in securing not only 
impunity, but popularity and admiration. In 
the south-western districts of Macedonia the 
bands are almost exclusively Greek; and by 
sparing to a certain extent the peasantry and 
villages who adhere to the Orthodox creed, reli- 
gious and political, they claim, as the successors 
of the Clephts and Armatoles of the war of 
independence, the sympathies of the Greek pop- 
ulations. Facile princeps among these bands 
is that of Kathrakia, which carries its depreda- 
tions from the foot of Olympus to the sources of 
the Vardar. Along the road from Wlacho Li- 
vada to Monastir there was scarcely a Mussul- 
man, Wallach, or Bulgarian village which had 
not some tale to tell of either threats or deeds 
of violence. Facile princeps also is Kathrakia 
in cold-blooded cruelty, in proof whereof the 
two following incidents may suffice : At Khrou- 
pista, a large mixed village about a day's 
journey from Kosana, Kathrakia arrived with 
his band on the night of the 30th of October, 



THE VILAYET OP MONASTIR. 83 

and attacked the house of the Mufti, which is 
in the outskirts of the village. The Mufti was 
away ; but in the house there was a considerable 
sum of money, nearly 3000 Uras, the proceeds of 
a sale of land. Of this handsome booty Kath- 
rakia promptly possessed himself; and then, 
without even the excuse of baffled greed, pro- 
ceeded to the most hideous excesses on the three 
unfortunate children of the Mufti, who, with an 
old servant, were the only occupants of the 
house. The bodies of the two boys and a girl, 
seven, nine, and twelve years old respectively, 
were found the next morning cut into pieces, 
and showing traces of the most shameful mal- 
treatment. 

About seven hours from Mon astir there is a 
small and prosperous Wlacho Bulgarian village, 
Melovishta. One Sunday morning the inhabi- 
tants were collected in church when Kathrakia 
and his band swooped down upon the place, 
leaving most of his men posted outside the 
church. The captain — who is, I believe, a Greek 
deserter — all gorgeous in the dress of a pseudo- 
Albanian chieftain, covered with gold, marched 
into the sacred edifice, followed by an equally 



84 'twixt greek and turk. 

gorgeous aide-de-camp carrying his Martini rifle, 
and a dozen men armed to the teeth. While 
divine service was proceeding he listened with 
devout reverence, and received on bended knee 
the blessing with which at the end of Mass the 
priest discharges his congregation. Then, wheel- 
ing round upon them, Kathrakia informed the 
terror-stricken viUagers that they were his 
prisoners, and that he was about to select some 
eight of their number who were to follow him 
as hostages into the mountains until such time 
as their friends should send and ransom them 
with 3000 liras in gold. The peasants were 
then marched out between the brigand ranks, 
and Kathrakia having made his choice of eight 
—men, women, and chUdren — his horsemen 
took them up behind them, and the band scam- 
pered away. In the course of about ten days 
the unfortunate villagers of Melovishta man- 
aged to collect some 200 liras, which two 
young men, who had near relatives among the 
hostages, volunteered to carry to the rendezvous 
appointed by the brigand chief. After meeting 
some of Kathrakia's scouts, and being marched 
about for a couple of days, they reached the 



THE VILAYET OF MONASTIR. 85 

headquarters of the band, and counted out their 
liras into the hands of the dashing kapitanos. 
But the bribe was too mean for him, and casting 
the money back to them, " Go back," he said, 
" to your people, and take your paltry money. 
I am not to be thus trifled with. Not one 
piastre will I abate from the sum I have de- 
manded. I have kept my part of the pact until 
now. My prisoners are well and safe. But 
beware how you shirk your share of the condi- 
tions." Thereupon he ordered the prisoners to 
be paraded before the village envoys ; and as 
the last one of the eight, an old man, was pass- 
ing, Kathrakia out with his sword, and the 
unfortunate peasant's head rolled at the very 
feet of his horror-stricken son and nephew. 

" Go now," Kathrakia said, "and tell the good 
folk of Melovishta what you have seen. They 
had better not again doubt my earnestness, or 
dare to keep me waiting." The two villagers 
arrived while I was still at Monastir, with a 
deputation from Melovishta, to plead for help 
from the Government. 

In other cases Kathrakia appears yet more 
distinctly in the character of a defender of the 



86 'twixt greek and turk. 

true Orthodox faith, plundering Bulgarian vil- 
lages and murdering schismatic priests. I was 
shown, while at Monastir, a letter addressed by 
him to the Bulgarising villagers of Derab. It 
was signed by him and his aide-de-camp, and 
bore the imposing seal of the Kapitanos Anas- 
thasios Kathrakia. It began, " Dogs, hounds, 
sons of hell,'' &c., and proceeded to the effect 
that news had reached the ears of the mighty 
kapitanos that the villages of Derab harboured 
in their midst a Bulgarian priest who would 
fain lead them in the path of a pestilent schism. 
" Be it therefore known unto you," it concluded, 
"that unless you forthwith eject from among 
you the accursed brood of Satan, your village 
shall be laid low and yourselves put to the edge 
of the sword.'' 

If Kathrakia's band is the most formidable 
of all and the most ubiquitous, there are many 
lesser stars who would fain rival him in their 
respective spheres. Niko has restricted himself 
to smaller exploits since the great coup he landed 
by Colonel Synge's capture. But Arcadi, Kriko, 
and a score of other names, spread terror and 
desolation in their several localities. North- 



THE VILAYET OP MONASTIR. 87 

west axe the Albanian bands of Dubr, the black 
sheep of their nation, who seem to practise 
murder and pillage indiscriminately on all races 
and sects and classes, and hold the mountains 
all along the western edge of the Monastir plain 
up to Krichevo and the upper valley of the 
Black Drin — demons who have the fanaticism 
of crime, and defy even the authority of the 
League. To the east Bulgarian marauders 
render the roads unsafe, and commit here and 
there desperate excesses ; but none of them west 
of the Vardar seem to have attained the high 
state of organisation and discipline which dis- 
tinguishes the Greek bands. 

When brigandage is thus rampant throughout 
the land, and has grown almost into a recognised 
institution which defies all rights and laws, it is 
not surprising that crime of every kind should 
be rife, and the prevailing anarchy turned to 
account for the satisfaction of individual pas- 
sions and resentments. And while life is thus 
rendered intolerable for all classes of the popu- 
lation — Christian and Mussulman, Bulgarian 
and Greek, Albanian and Turk — while lawless- 
ness has reached such a pitch as to rouse from 



88 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

their supineness the higher Turkish authorities 
of the province, Constantinople goes on drain- 
ing Macedonia of the men and money without 
which the best will in the world is powerless to 
wrestle with these disorders. So long as justice 
can be bought in court by the worst culprits ; 
so long as the police and minor officials, not 
to speak of the higher authorities, are driven 
through sheer want into coUusion with the 
brigands ; so long as, owing to general misrule, 
the sympathies of whole sections of the popula- 
tion are enlisted on behalf of the brigands ; so 
long as there is no strong and just Government 
to check the indiflference, not to say gratifica- 
tion, with which crimes committed on rival races 
or communities are nowadays viewed, — so long 
will the evil go on growing apace until the final 
catastrophe; and signs are not wanting that 
that catastrophe is already close at hand. 

On the farther banks of the Vardar the Bul- 
garian revolution is already organised. It has 
in all the Bulgarian districts its committees who 
carry on its propaganda, and its bodies of 
avengers who carry out its behests. Formed to 
combat Hellenism by encouraging national edu- 



THE VILAYET OF MONASTIR. 89 

cation and promoting the interests of the national 
clergy, these committees are equally directed 
against the Mussulman landowners, and have 
taken against them the shape of a kind of Land 
League. Their object is, in theory, whenever a 
deed of oppression or injustice is laid to the 
charge of a Moslem, to visit upon him the 
punishment which no Turkish court of law can 
ever be found to inflict. But in reality their 
practice far exceeds even this code of savage 
justice, and seems more calculated, by foment- 
ing disturbances and provoking reprisals, to give 
rise to an outbreak of fanaticism such as that 
which in 1876 precipitated the downfall of 
Turkish rule in Eoumelia. Though they can be 
seldom accused of acts of plunder, these bodies 
of avengers wreak their cruelty and lust indif- 
ferently on the guilty and the innocent; and 
women, and children, and old men have to suffer 
in memory of ancient wrongs. 



90 



CHAPTER VI. 



BULGARIAN CITY. 



Thanks to Selami's friendly convoy, I had 
reached Monastir pleasantly and safely. The 
question now presented itself of how I was 
to return to Larissa, and its solution was beset 
with the same difficulties which had met my 
desire to leave it. The most interesting route 
was without doubt to follow the direct road 
to Salonica through Vodhena to Yenidjeh, the 
royal city of the Macedonian kings and the 
birthplace of Alexander; and thence, skirting 
the eastern slopes of Mount Olympus along 
the shores of the ^Egean, to re-enter Thessaly 
through the Vale of Tempe. But Ahmed 
Eyoub Pasha, who was then Military and Civil 
Governor of Western Macedonia, pleaded bri- 
gandage as an excuse to place an absolute veto 



A BULGARIAN CITY. 91 

on that route, the real reason for which ought 
probably to be sought in certain earthworks 
which were then being erected along some por- 
tions of that road. I was too much indebted 
to Selami's kindness to be free to act in direct 
defiance of the Turkish authorities; and so there 
was nothing left for me but to conform to the 
Vali's wishes, and follow the ordinary and pro- 
saic route, joining the Mitrovitza-Salonica Eail- 
way at Graczko, whence (inshallah !) the vapor 
would carry me in a few hours to Salonica, and 
I could there (inshallah I) catch another vapor 
for Volo. That steam locomotion was not to 
my mind, and that I had other objects in 
travelling than to be whisked from place to 
place with a minimum of physical exertion, 
were ideas far too incongruous to the Valfs 
nature — ^which had already too often asserted 
on the battle-field its antipathy to all forms 
of locomotion save, perhaps, that which is pop- 
ularly ascribed to the crab — for me to ques- 
tion the transcendent advantages of the vapor ^ 
especially when enhanced by the promise of a 
free pass, with which his Excellency was good 
enough to clench the argument. 



92 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

The sun was just gilding the domes and 
minarets of Monastir, and glinting through the 
foliage of the trees, already thinned by autumn 
winds and frosts, as I rode out of the northern 
gates of the town. The lofty table-land, studded 
with tree-girt villages, lay stretched out before 
us, a broad reach of fertile arable land, broken 
only here and there by the silver streak of an 
undrained morass. A good road runs across 
this plain to Perlepe, which lies at the eastern 
extremity of the plateau, at the mouth of the 
two gorges which lead through the chain of the 
Babona mountains to the valley of the Vardar ; 
and the bell of a quaint old clock-tower in the 
market-place of Perlepe was only just striking 
six d la Turque (about noon, European time) 
as we cantered across the bridge which spans 
one of the headwaters of the ancient Lydias. 

As, coming up south from Thessaly, Kosana 
was the last town we passed where the Greco- 
Wallach element was unmixed, and beyond 
which we scarcely again heard either Wallach 
or Greek, except in the Greek quarter of Mon- 
astir, so, proceeding northwards from Mon- 
astir, Perlepe is the first large Bulgarian centre 



A BULGARIAN CITY. 93 

where the Bulgarian tongue is almost exclu- 
sively spoken. Even the Mussulmans of the 
town, who form about a quarter of the popula- 
tion, know Bulgarian as well as Turkish, and 
only speak the latter in official circles or among 
their families; while the Moslem villagers of 
the district often speak the Slavonic tongue 
in preference to TurkisL Nor has Bulgarian 
much to fear from the competition of Greek 
or Wallach, for there are now only eighty houses 
left here where either of those tongues is 
still spoken. Perlepe affords one of the most 
striking instances of the rapid strides with 
which the Bulgarian national feeling is out- 
growing both Turkish domination and the Hel- 
lenising schemes of the Orthodox clergy. In 
the elaborate returns of the Greek population 
in Macedonia and Thrace which the Hellenic 
Syllogos presented at the time of the Treaty of 
San Stefano to Sir Henry Layard, the Greek or 
Hellenised population of the district of Perlepe 
was set down at 40,000 souls, either resident in 
the town or scattered over ninety Greek and 
forty -seven mixed villages. Notwithstanding 
the evident exaggeration of these figures, it is 



94 'twixt greek and turk. 

doubtless true that two years and a half ago, at 
the time those returns were framed, it was just 
possible, by classing as Hellenised all the Bul- 
garophones who adhered to the Orthodox Church, 
to outnumber the Bulgarians who looked to a 
national Church as the emblem of national ex- 
istence. Since then thirty months have passed, 
Bulgaria from a mere name has become a living 
reality, and the mutilation which it underwent 
at the Congress of Berlin has served not to 
damp but to stimulate the national feeling 
among those left without the pale of freedom. 
In spite of the redoubled efforts of the Greek 
clergy, in spite of the support afforded to 
it by the Turkish authorities, in spite of its 
own precarious position, the Bulgarian national 
Church, deprived of many of its pastors, sus- 
pected by the Government, placed under the 
ban of excommunication by the Holy Orthodox 
Synod, has never ceased to rise on the tide of 
the national revival; and to-day the Greek 
Archbishop of Monastir is fain to confess that in 
the whole district of Perlepe there are only six 
villages, and in the town eighty houses, left — in 



A BULGARIAN CITY. 95 

all, barely a thousand souls — who still acknow- 
ledge his spiritual jurisdiction. 

Yet the heavy curses with bell, book, and 
candle which his Eminence has fulminated 
against Perlepe do not appear to have impaired 
its prosperity. Placed in a sunny corner of one 
of the most fertile table-lands of European Tur- 
key ; surrounded by vineyards and tobacco-fields, 
to which it owes much of its wealth and reputa- 
tion ; sharing with Monastir the broad acres of 
the plain and its golden crops of barley, wheat, 
and Indian corn, — it derives also no little profit 
from its transit trade, as it lies at the mouth 
of the two mountain-passes through which the 
Salonica-Mitrovitza Railway taps the rich pla- 
teaux of western Macedonia. If the ruins of the 
royal castle, still called King Marco's Seat, on 
a rugged crag behind the town, testify that 
Perlepe has had a past, its bright well-built 
houses, its clean streets, its thriving population, 
are unequivocal witnesses not only to a certain 
measure of present wellbeing, but to a future 
of infallible prosperity. Where every house- 
hold, even to the humblest, considers itself dis- 



96 'twixt greek and turk. 

graced if it has not always its stock of provi- 
sions for at least six months in advance^ there 
can be but little cause for grumbling. And in 
truth, the inhabitants of Perlepe are singularly 
free from that whining querulousness peculiar to 
the Christian populations of Turkey. Yet they 
suffered considerably during the war from the 
suspiciousness of the authorities ; and the irri- 
tation of the Mussulmans often found vent, even 
to within the last few months, in outrages on 
their Christian neighbours, for which the latter 
could never obtain redress. But the appoint- 
ment of a new Mutessarif, Abdul Rahman 
Effendi, has checked these outrages; and the 
stationing of military posts throughout a great 
part of the district, to protect the postal road 
between Monastir and the Salonica Railway, has 
of late preserved this region from the depreda- 
tions of marauders. Abdul Rahman Effendi, who 
seems to be a pearl among Turkish officials, has 
even succeeded to some extent in reforming the 
hehjisy a class of petty tyrants, who rank among 
the chief curses of the country. The hekjis are 
properly guardians, gardes-champStres, appoint- 
ed by each village for purposes of rural police. 



A BULGARIAN CITY. 97 

for protecting the harvest from spoliation, su- 
perintending the gathering of the crops, keeping 
watch in the vineyards, and defending the peas- 
ants and their chattels from marauders. Of these 
a village is allowed to have as many as it likes 
and chooses to support. Unfortunately, in prac- 
tice this excellent institution serves very different 
ends, and villagers are often compelled to have 
many more bekjis than they require, and of a 
very different stamp. By threats or violence 
every petty local magnate, even bands of brig- 
ands, force upon the villagers their own nomi- 
nees, of course for the mere purpose of spying 
out the land, and compelling assistance in their 
deeds of oppression, corruption, and lawlessness. 
Thus a village finds itself sometimes saddled 
with eight or ten of these strange " guardians," 
each of whom levies upon it in kind a salary of 
twenty, thirty, and even fifty liras per annum 
— not for any services which he renders, but for 
the very tyranny which he exercises over the 
wretched peasantry under the commission of 
his real employers. The local influence of the 
latter in the mejlisses, and among at least the 
subordinate officials, makes it worse than use- 

G 



98 'twixt greek and turk. 

less for a village to seek redress, as complaints 
are sure to involve only aggravated persecution. 
Abdul Rahman Effendi has gone energetically 
into the question, and has succeeded by his 
firmness in ridding many villages of the Perlepe 
district from their ruffianly guardians. But 
vested interests are not to be overthrown in a 
day; and he has not yet been able to obtain 
the sanction of the Government to the radical 
change by which he proposes to extirpate the 
evils of the present system. I understood, how- 
ever, at Monastir, that Ahmed Eyoub Pasha had 
given it his support, and proposed to apply it 
throughout the province. In lieu of the present 
bekjisy who are chiefly recruited from broken- 
down brigands or officials under a cloud, the 
authorities would supply to every village as 
many men from the regular army as they might 
require and be willing to lodge and support. 
When first told of the plan, I was inclined to 
fear lest the soldiers might misuse the power 
thus placed in their hands ; but both Christians 
and Mussulmans are anxious for the change. 
Indeed, the mutual confidence and good rela- 
tions of the Turkish regulars with the peasantry 



A BULGARIAN CITY. 99 

of Macedonia and Thessaly afford a pleasant 
contrast to the bitterness of sectarian animosity 
in those provinces. During a ten weeks' journey, 
throughout almost the whole course of which I 
was accompanied by an escort of Turkish sol- 
diers, who were changed at every military depot, 
I had ample opportunity to watch their be- 
haviour. To myself they were always atten- 
tive, invariably cheerful, anxious to be of use, 
and grateful for the smallest kindness ; in their 
dealings with the peasantry they were consider- 
ate and good-tempered, and though I was care- 
ful to make inquiries, I never had but two com- 
plaints against them, and those of a most tri- 
fling nature ; while their good-fellowship among 
themselves, and their readiness to lend one an- 
other a helping hand, were always pleasantly 
conspicuous. 

But to return to Perlepe. If excommunica- 
tion has failed to bring down on the prosperous 
little city the fire and brimstone to which it 
should have been devoted, it has had one social 
result of a very peculiar kind. Among the 
superstitions which the Greek clergy has en- 
couraged in the minds of the ignorant peasantry 



100 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

of the East, there are few more widely spread or 
more deeply rooted than the belief in a certain 
class of ghosts or evil spirits called mykolakas. 
The Eev. Mr Tozer, in his *Eesearches in the 
Highlands of Turkey/ gives an interesting ac- 
count of the various forms which this belief 
assumes. " The idea concerning them [the vry- 
kolakas\ is, he says, that some persons come 
to life again after death, sleep in their tombs 
with their eyes wide open, and wander abroad 
by night, especially when the moon is shining 
brightly. . . . The more malignant form 
of these spirits nearly corresponds to the vam- 
pire, and is supposed to keep itself alive by 
sucking the blood of men." But the more 
common form is less noxious, as it contents it- 
self with playing all kinds of mischievous tricks, 
and frightening the people without doing any 
further injury; or, according to another descrip- 
tion, " appears as a real living man, who has the 
peculiarity of roaming by night as a dog over 
heaths, pastures, and even villages, killing with 
his touch horses, cows, sheep, swine, goats, and 
other animals in his passage, appropriating to 
himself their vital forces, by means of which he 



A BULGARIAN CITY. 101 

has the appearance of being in continual health 
and vigour/' The principal cause which changes 
persons into vrykolahas after death, is excom- 
munication ; and doubtless, when excommuni- 
cation was a penalty but rarely imposed, the 
fear of being converted after death into a vry- 
kolaka added not a little to the terrors of the 
ban, while the dread of being revisited after 
death by the unclean spirit of the friend or 
relative who might still be tolerated during life 
even w^hen excommunicate, operated as a spell 
to close every house against the unfortunate 
victim of the Church's wrath. Among the 
various means employed for exorcising the vry- 
kolaka, the most orthodox was to obtain the 
reversal by absolution of the excommunication 
pronounced by the Church ; and as the payment 
of heavy fees was always a condition sine qud 
non of such absolution, it was of course strongly 
advocated by all ecclesiastical authorities. But 
there was another and more informal process, 
by which indeed peace was not restored to the 
afflicted soul, but immunity could at least be 
secured from the pernicious results of its nightly 
wanderings ; and this process, as being cheaper, 



102 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

and from a selfish point of view equally effectual, 
enjoyed considerable popular favour. There 
were held to exist in certain towns families 
which were the offspring of the vrykolahas, and 
were empowered as such to treat in their name, 
accepting peace-offerings, and securing in return 
freedom from the intrusion of their luckless ances- 
tors. Shunned though they were for their con- 
nection with the spirits, the powers of which they 
enjoyed the monopoly, and the mystery which 
surrounded the exercise of their arts, compelled 
a certain degree of reverential fear, while the 
gifts of their petitioners more than sufficed to 
compensate them for their social isolation. One 
of these curious colonies dwelt at Perlepe, and 
enjoyed until recently a high reputation for the 
potency of its relations with the spiritual world. 
But the rapid spread and wholesale scattering 
of excommunication consequent upon the Bul- 
garian schism has been fatal to its pretensions. 
Familiarity breeds contempt ; and the good 
people of Perlepe have of late years been made 
.so familiar with excommunication, that, from 
learning to brave its consequences, they have 
ended by laughing at them. Now that nine- 



A BULGARIAN CITY. 103 

tenths of the Christian population of the district 
have been placed under the ban, the belief in 
vryholahas is reduced to a palpable absurdity. 
The good Perlepiote who a few years ago 
shuddered and crossed himself devoutly at the 
mere mention of a vryh>laka, now Jugs hi. 
shoulders and says : " Ah, well 1 I suppose we 
shall all be turned into vryholahas some day. 
The more the merrier 1 " So the vryholaha is 
exploded ; and the unlucky families who claimed 
connection with him gradually give up their 
sackcloth and ashes, their dishevelled locks, 
their nocturnal spells, and all the rest of their 
stock-in-trade, and sink down from their super- 
natural estate to the dull level of commoD, 
labouring mortality. 

The road from Perlepe to Graczko rises rapidly 
over the spurs of the Babouna mountains, and 
before plunging into the long and winding pass 
which leads down into the valley of the Var- 
dar, a fine retrospect is obtained of the plain of 
Monastir, Perlepe itself lying immediately at 
the traveller's feet in a deep depression of the 
long and rugged chain which forms the eastern 
boundary of the lofty table-land ; while far away 



104 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

to the south-west, beyond the level expanse of 
the plain, the gardens and domes of Monastir 
can be faintly discerned nestling under the 
shadow of the double peak of Mount Peristeri. 
From the summit of the pass, where a goodly 
detachment of troops, told off for patrol-duty 
along the postal road, were encamped on the 
hillside, we descended in sharp zigzags through 
a steep defile into the valley of one of the tribu- 
taries of the Czerna, the ancient Erigon, which, 
passing between Mount Nidjeh and the southern 
end of the Babouna chain, carries the waters of 
the Monastir plain into the Vardar. The scenery 
was lovely, the slopes of the wooded hills on 
either side being clothed with all the varied 
tints of autumn, while here and there the cliffs 
closed in upon the water-course, and scarcely left 
room for the road to wind beside the brawling 
torrent. But with the exception of the half-way 
Aan, we scarcely passed a human habitation 
during the whole of the long day's journey, till, 
about nine hours after leaving Perlepe, we 
reached the broad valley of the Vardar, and saw 
Graczko lying before us on the last spur of 
the mountain- range. Mr Tozer has identified 



A BULGARIAN CITY. 105 

Graczko with the once important town of Stobi, 
which in Roman times was the meeting-point 
of the four great roads which intersected Mace- 
donia. But its site is now occupied only by a 
squalid Bulgarian village. So without troubling 
ourselves to find the ford which leads to it across 
the Czerna, we made straight for the railway 
station, some two miles north of the village; 
and having dismissed my escort, I spent the 
night in wrestling with the fleas, which seemed to 
be the only guests besides myself in the miser- 
able Bulgarian han which did duty for a railway 
hotel. The next morning the solitary train 
which creeps wearily each other day from Uskub 
down to Salonica, came puffing and panting up 
to the platform ; and in spite of persistent dawd- 
ling at every station, and sundry little untoward 
events, such as running over an unfortunate 
cow and waiting half an hour for a Pasha's 
harem, we reached Salonica by eight o'clock in 
the evening, having only taken eleven hours and 
a half to cover a distance of a hundred miles. 
The next day I took the steamer for Volo, and 
on the following evening was back again at 
Larissa. 



106 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE VALE OF TEMPE AND THE PLAIN OP 

THESSALY. 

A SUCCESSION of severe storms which followed 
my return to Larissa warned me that, if I 
wished to carry into execution my plan of cross- 
ing the Pindus into Epirus, I should not tarry 
longer on the road, under penalty of being de- 
layed, and perhaps driven back, by heavy snows 
and swollen torrents. My preparations were 
soon made — Hidayet Pasha, the Mushir in com- 
mand of the troops in Thessaly and Epirus, and 
Khalil Bey, the Mutessarif of Larissa, vying 
with each other in making every arrangement 
which could conduce to the comfort and safety 
of my journey. The kindness and courtesy 
which they showed me, notwithstanding the 
bitter feeling which the policy of England to- 



THE VALE OP TEMPE. 107 

wards Turkey was at that time calculated to 
excite — and in many cases, as I afterwards ex- 
perienced, did excite — against Englishmen in 
general among the Turkish official classes, de- 
serve to be specially acknowledged. Though 
belonging to diflferent schools, both of which 
unfortunately have found but too few disciples 
among the officials of the Ottoman empire, both 
the Mushir and the Mutessarif were representa- 
tives of the best and rarest class of Turkish 
officials. Hidayet Pasha was an old Turk. 
Without powerful connections, without excep- 
tional abilities, he had risen by sheer pluck, 
endurance, and honesty from the ranks to the 
highest military honours of the empire. He 
supplied his lack of education by sound common - 
sense ; and though a fervent Moslem, his natural 
kindliness raised him above narrow sectarianism. 
Popular with the people, hospitable to his friends, 
and courteous to all men, he succeeded, by the 
simple exercise of that tact which is born not 
of diplomacy, but of the fulness of a generous 
heart, in gaining the respect and aflfection of a 
hostile population, who were inclined, both from 
political antipathy and from past experience, to 



108 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

look upon every Turkish official as the embodi- 
ment of tyranny. Khalil Bey was a young 
Turk. He had been attached for many years 
to the Ottoman Embassy in Vienna, and had 
visited most of the European Courts. He had 
spent those years profitably in gaining ac- 
quaintance not with the vices but with the 
virtues of Western civilisation, and he had re- 
turned to his own country imbued not with the 
hollow shibboleths but with the practical spirit 
of the nineteenth century. While residing in 
Austria, he had been able to study the means 
by which an empire composed of elements fully 
as heterogeneous as are to be found in Tur- 
key can secure its unity without checking the 
individual development of its component parts. 
" Turkey," he once said to me, " is like unto a 
flock of sheep pent up in a stony field, which, 
finding nothing but rocks and weeds and bram- 
bles to feed upon, are continually trying to 
break through the fence in order to feed on the 
richer meadows of their neighbours ; and as the 
shepherds in the adjoining meadows are always 
piping prettily to allure them over, while from 
their own shepherds they get only kicks and 



THE VALE OF TEMPE. 109 

blows, the poor beasts will naturally never be 
quiet until they wriggle themselves through the 
holes in the fence. Our head shepherds in Con- 
stantinople fancy that by ordering from abroad 
the pictures of the fine animals which have 
gained prizes in the cattle-show, and by print- 
ing in broad-sheets the recipes according to 
which they are fattened, our own sheep must 
perforce grow fat and sleek and comfortable. 
Others imagine that if only a big wall could 
be built round our field to shut out the view 
of the bright meadows outside and the sound 
of the neighbours' chalumeaux, our sheep would 
soon make the best of their stones and weeds 
and brambles, and thrive upon them as if they 
were the sweetest grass. My own opinion is 
that neither the prize models nor the wall will 
prevent our sheep from either sickening and 
dying, or trying to make good their escape 
out of the fold. But if each of the shepherds 
in charge of our flocks would take the trouble 
to pull out the stones and the weeds and the 
brambles in his part of the field, and if the 
water which is wanted to fertilise it were not 
all carried off to feed the fountains and cascades 



no 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

of the head shepherds' pleasure-gardens, and if 
we only exchanged the stick for the chalumeaux, 
and gave our flocks a little more piping and less 
beating, our sheep would soon grow to like their 
fold, and we should be able to do without both 
the wall and the pri^e models." And certainly 
Khalil Bey, though he has charge of the most 
obstinate of all the flock, and though he knows 
that they may at any moment be transferred to 
a new owner, does what he can to temper to 
them the cold wind which blows over from Con- 
stantinople. The friendly, not to say cordial, 
relations which exist between the Greek Con- 
sulate and Archbishopric on the one hand, and 
the civil and military authorities of the province 
on the other, notwithstanding the delicate posi- 
tion of both parties, are a signal testimony to 
their mutual success in preserving the conduct 
of local afiairs free from the baneful influence of 
political rancour. An instance which occurred 
just before my arrival at Larissa may be con- 
veniently quoted as a case in point. The Mili- 
tary Governor of Epirus, a fanatical Circassian, 
of whom more anon, had caused two Greeks of 
Yanina to be arbitrarily arrested on the charge 



THE VALE OF TEMPE. Ill 

of seditious language, which was in reality the 
idle gossip of a coffee-house, and sent them in 
chains to Larissa under military escort, to be 
thence conveyed to a place of exile in Mesopo- 
tamia. Their relations telegraphed the facts of 
the case to Hidayet Pasha, and his Excellency 
on his own responsibility cancelled the orders 
of the authorities of Yanina, and released the 
prisoners on parole, to remain at Larissa until 
the matter was settled by reference to the Sub- 
lime Porte. No one could have condemned 
Hidayet had he washed his hands of the whole 
business, as he had, strictly speaking, no power 
to deal with it ; but his acute sense of justice 
and of honesty dictated to him the more dan- 
gerous course of opposing his Epirote colleague, 
even at the cost of provoking the resentment 
of the Palace influences, which the Circassian 
Pasha is known to command. 

The day before I left, I had an opportunity of 
witnessing in another form the harmony which 
reigned between the Greek and Turkish com- 
munities of Larissa. The Archbishop had in 
the morning given his niece away in mar- 
riage to one of the leading Greeks of the 



112 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

town, and in the evening a banquet took 
place at the Archiepiscopal Palace to cele- 
brate the auspicious event. Priests and pashas, 
Mussulman beys and Greek merchants, respond- 
ed to the invitation, and the merry temper of 
the guests, the gentle flirtations of Turkisli 
officers and Greek ladies, the heavy fire of pon- 
derous jokes, entirely blinded me to the horror 
of the situation, until the Mushir, in proposing 
the Archbishop's health, returned thanks on 
behalf of the Turkish wolf for being allowed to 
lie down once again with the Greek lamb ; and 
I am sorry to say that his Eminence was him- 
self so blind to this unholy alliance between the 
Crescent and the Cross, that he actually treated 
the allusion as a joke, saying he could discover 
no wolf in the room save the bridegroom, who 
had come to carry ojQF his own lambkin, — upon 
which the fair lambs again turned their atten- 
tion to the wolves, and looked as if they too 
would not mind being carried ojQF in the same 
way; and a good deal of pleasant banter, not 
unaccompanied with whispering and blushing, 
went on in a true Christian spirit, till the signal 
was given to return to the selaynliky where 



THE VALE OF TEMPE. 113 

wolves and lambs were stirred by the vigorous 
strains of a Turkish band to terpsichorean ejQForts, 
wherein, I am free to confess, they displayed 
more energy than skill. But its very novelty 
added zest to the exercise ; and when I took 
French leave to retire at an early hour, in view 
of the morrow's start, I still saw the kindly old 
Archbishop standing in the middle of the room 
and beating time with foot and finger as the 
enthusiastic couples glided and stumbled around 
him. 

My pleasantest recollection of Larissa will 
be the moment when, halting two miles outside 
the town on one of the tumular mounds studded 
about the plain, I turned to cast a farewell 
glance on the yellow patch of mud-houses and 
mud-streets, half veiled in the silver mist of 
malaria, which marked the capital of Thessaly. 
My course lay north-east across the plain to- 
wards the gorge where the Peneus, with an 
energy long since lost to its lazy waters, erst 
forced its passage to the sea between Ossa and 
Olympus. For to leave Thessaly without per- 
forming a pilgrimage to the Vale of Tempe 
would be a sin which not even the terrors of 

H 



114 'tWIXT OREE& AND TURK. 

brigandage could excuse. After three hours' 
riding across the flat, the monotony of which is 
more than redeemed by the glorious prospect of 
the mountains clothed with the eariy lights of 
morning, the plain is broken by projecting spurs 
thrown out from the lofty slopes of Ossa. The 
Peneus disappears amid clumps of spreading 
plane-trees and silver willow, brawling streams 
come tumbling merrily down from the hills, 
the fields are fringed with hedges of blackberry 
and yellow thorn, and presently a tapering min- 
aret, rising out of a dark grove of cypress-trees, 
marks the Turkish village of Baba, which lies 
at the western entrance to the gorge. Baba 
owes its name to a famous dervish, Baba Osman, 
who came into the country with the first Mus- 
sulman conquerors, and selected this favoured 
spot to found a tekke^ or monastery. When Baba 
Osman died, wonderful miracles were wrought 
at his tomb : sultans endowed his tekke^ and the 
dervishes of Baba became a power in the land. 
But now its prosperity has long been on the 
wane, though pious Moslems still journey from 
afar to the holy shrine, and the Christian peas- 
ants of the neighbourhood still hang their vo- 



THE VALE OP TEMPE. 115 

tive rags to its venerable cypress-trees, whether 
to conjure the Evil One or to propitiate Baba 
Osman's spirit, I was unable to discover. I had 
scarcely installed myself for my mid-day's rest 
in the quaint old graveyard which adjoins the 
tehkey when the old dervish who is now the sole 
inmate of the monastery sallied out to greet 
me. Now there are dervishes and dervishes. 
If in some of them the worst form of Mussul- 
man fanaticism seems made incarnate, there are 
many of a more liberal, because perhaps more 
sceptical, school, who have tempered the harsh 
exclusive dogmatism of Sunnite orthodoxy 
with the milder inspirations of Buddhistic pan- 
theism. When the grey-bearded patriarch of 
Baba spread out his hands as in prayer upon 
the stranger, and gave him, a Christian, the wel- 
come peculiar to the true believer, " El salaam 
aleikoum,'' I knew that I had no fanatic to 
deal with. After the ordinary expressions of 
welcome and frugal show of hospitality, he in- 
sisted upon taking me himself round the tehke 
and into the small mosque where his first an- 
cestors were buried; for dervish hood runs in 
families, and the eldest son of a dervish is in- 



116 'twixt greek and tuhk. 

variably brought up to the same vocation. In 
the largest of the tombs, covered with a broad 
green mantle, rests the founder of the tekkey and 
to the wall are suspended his sword and his 
Koran. Many were the tales he told me of the 
wonders they had worked ; but he added, naively 
enough, " God has now withdrawn His strength 
from them, and I am told I shall soon have to 
take them down from yonder wall, where they 
have so long hung, an object of veneration 
throughout the land, and wander forth with 
them in my old age to the far country whence 
we came." And when I asked him why he 
could not remain and finish his days in peace 
under Christian rule, he added : " To me all men 
are sons of God ; but Baba Osman (the mercy of 
God be upon him !) lived in other days, and his 
sword is still red with the Giaours' blood. It 
would not be well that it should fall into their 
hands." 

From Baba the direct road through the Vale 
of Tempe runs almost alongside the Peneus 
(which the Greeks now call the Salem vria and 
the Turks the Gostem) ; but the more interest- 
ing route runs up between terraced vineyards to 



THE VALE OP TEMPE. 117 

a lofty plateau, where Ambelakia lies buried in 
a perfect bower of verdure. More than four 
hundred houses, many of them of stately con- 
struction, nestling amid groves of chestnuts and 
of plane-trees, still bear witness to its former 
prosperity, but two-thirds of them at least are 
now untenanted and fast falling into ruins. 
The twenty-four manufactories which at one 
time supplied the markets of Eastern Europe 
with famous cotton-yarns dyed with the rich 
red madder from Asia Minor, stand desolate 
and silent ; the long caravans which used every 
year to convey some 5000 cwt. of yarn over- 
land to Pesth and Belgrade have long since 
disappeared from its deserted streets ; the high 
school, which once rivalled the best Greek colleges 
of Smyrna and Constantinople, has dwindled 
down to a mere village class-room where peas- 
ant children painfully spell out their ABC; 
the library, which ranked with those of the Holy 
Mountain, has been scattered to the four winds. 
English spinning-jennies first shook the com- 
mercial supremacy of Ambelakia ; the Turkish 
soldiery completed its ruin during the Greek 
war of independence. From this melancholy 



118 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

abode of decayed prosperity another steep path 
leads down again into the valley. The gorge 
rapidly narrows. Olympus on one side, Ossa 
on the other, throw out their gigantic buttresses 
almost down to the water's edge, scarcely leav- 
ing room for the fringe of oleander and plane- 
trees intermingled with the darker green of 
olive and of oak, and the laurel sacred to 
Apollo, which overhang the placid waters of the 
Peneus. The ruined walls of an ancient castle 
rise to the left of the path ; and far above, on a 
bold and lofty crag, a single arch stands out in 
sharp relief against the dark-blue sky. It is 
still called the Beauty's Tower; and a legend 
tells how a local siren, an Eastern Marguerite de 
Valois, used to cast the paramours whom she 
seduced into her stronghold down the preci- 
pice into the stream below. Here and there 
traces are visible of the Koman road which con- 
nected the plain of Thessaly with Thessalonica ; 
and at one point a Latin inscription on a rock 
tablet records the fact that the Proconsul Lu- 
cius Cassius Longinus fortified Tempe. Of late 
the Turks have turned their attention to this 
road and repaired it with unwonted care — ^per- 



THE VALE OP TEMPE, 119 

haps in view of a future retreat of their army 
along this route to Macedonia. The scenery 
presents that combination of the beautiful and 
the grand by which nature in her gentler moods 
tempers her awful majesty. The valley is a 
wild garden of broad-spreading trees and flower- 
ing bushes, Tempe qucB silvcB cingunt superim- 
pendentes ; while lofty cliffs of grey limestone, 
made bright with patches of red and yellow 
lichens, and with luxuriant vegetation growing 
out from every nook and cranny, tower above 
it to the right and to the left, now rising in 
one sheer unbroken wall, now broken up into 
a thousand fantastic pinnacles and buttresses. 
For about an hour and a half from Baba the 
road winds through the gorge, and then suddenly 
the valley expands. Olympus and Ossa fall 
away on either side in gentler slopes, and the 
Peneus rolls onward to the -fflgean across a 
broad flat plain, where the yellow maize is still 
waiting for the reaper. The traveller to Salon- 
ica crosses the stream by a ferry near a ruined 
bridge, but our path keeps along the foot of the 
southern hills and between clumps of magnifi- 
cent plane-trees and green ilex overgrown with 



120 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

a thousand creepers, and brings us in two 
hours to Tchai-Aghazy. It is a pretty little 
open roadstead which does a good deal of trade, 
and a good deal more smuggling, with small 
Greek craft from Salonica and the ports of 
Greece. Much of the produce of Northern 
Thessaly finds its outlet here, and the village, 
which is purely Greek, is prosperous. The 
Turkish Government has of late cherished the 
hope that if Larissa were left to Turkey, Tchai- 
Aghazy might be made to rival Volo. But 
were even Northern Thessaly to remain under 
Ottoman rule, Tchai-Aghazy could never be 
converted into a first-class port without an en- 
ormous outlay. Sheltered though it is from 
the south and south-east winds by a spur of 
Mount Ossa, it is open to the north-east gales 
which in winter sweep across the gulf from 
Salonica. The beach is shallow and an<3hor- 
age is bad. Only two years ago a Turkish gun- 
boat was driven on shore near here and went 
to pieces. Two small Greek coasting barques, 
that certainly did not run over fifty tons, were 
lying at the time fully half a mile from the 



THE VALE OP TEMPE. 121 

shore. However, a ridge of rocks and the re- 
mains of an ancient mole run out in a north- 
easterly direction, and a good breakwater might 
no doubt be built there at no great expense, 
and insure a fair amount of safety to moderate- 
sized vessels. But should Thessaly ever enjoy 
its proper share of material prosperity and de- 
velopment, the future of Tchai-Aghazy as a 
summer resort and watering-place should be 
assured of success. A more lovely position 
can scarcely be imagined. Lying amid shady 
groves of trees under the forest-girt slopes of 
Ossa, which shelter it from the ardour of the 
south, it catches the fresh breezes across the 
gulf. As I stood on the beach in the evening, 
the sun had already sunk behind the massive 
chain of Mount Olympus, and its eastern slopes 
were clothed in the purple mists of evening; 
but its majestic domes were still bathed in 
sunlight ; the glory of the heavens was reflected 
on the glassy waters of the gulf : to the north 
the faint outline of Mount Khortiatzi marked 
the bay where Salonica lies ; and far away to the 
east the cone of Mount Athos, the Holy Moun- 



122 'tWIXT GREEK AND TURK, 

tain, strangely luminous and transparent, rose 
like a fairy vision out of the bosom of the 
Mgean Sea. 

In a country where his time is limited, the 
traveller generally grudges having to retrace 
his steps along the same road. But the Vale 
of Tempe is too beautiful to allow of such 
regrets. The next day, on my way back, its 
grandeur revealed itself in a new shape. Storm- 
clouds had gathered about the mountains, the 
summits of the cliflfs were lost amid dark lower- 
ing nimbi, and the voice of the thunder-god was 
heard muttering on Olympus. But the sun 
ever shines at Baba, and on issuing from the 
defile all was placid and serene. From Baba 
a road crosses the Salemvria and leads along 
the northern edge of the great plain of Thessaly 
to the large wine-growing village of Timowa. 
This is the district of Thessaly which was first 
occupied by Mussulman immigrants ; for, be- 
fore the conquest of the country by the Turks, 
the Greeks of Larissa applied to a Mussulman 
chieftain to protect them against the predatory 
incursions of the Bulgars, and in response to 
their invitation 5000 families from Asia Minor 



THE VALB OP TEMPE. 123 

settled in the valley of Vereli at the mouth of 
the gorge of Tempe, and along the southern 
spurs of Mount Olympus, and thus formed a 
barrier against the northern invaders. In about 
three hours Timowa is reached, a large strag- 
gling village, or rather town, of about 6000 in- 
habitants, through which I had already passed 
on my way to Monastir. It lies pleasantly 
enough amid vineyards watered by the Europus, 
and its mixed population of Greeks, Wallachs, 
and Turks are unusually prosperous, — for be- 
sides its extensive wine trade, Tirnowa is one 
of the few places in the province which can 
still boast a native industry ; its cotton prints 
and woollen tissues are to be seen in almost 
every homestead of Thessaly. From Tirnowa 
the road to Trikalla crosses the Europus and 
reaches the Salemvria near some ruins which 
are supposed to mark the site of the ancient 
Larissa. The modem town lies about six miles 
farther down the stream. Hence to Trikalla is 
a wearisome thirty miles' ride across the plain. 
At this season of the year, after the harvest 
has been gathered, the landscape is brown and 
bleak. The villages are squalid and ill-favoured. 



124 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

The houses are mere hovels built of mud, often 
without even a tree to redeem their graceless- 
ness. Yet if you go inside them you will find 
a measure of comfort which many an Irish 
peasant might well envy. There are bright 
pots and pans displayed along the whitewashed 
wall, a good rush -matting on the mud -floor; 
the wooden divan which lines one side of the 
room is covered with a gay bit of Elassona 
carpet or Tirnowa print ; in that farther recess 
the mattresses and coverlets which constitute 
an Eastern bed are carefully stowed away 
against the night ; and in the corner, where 
a smoky lamp is burning beneath the family 
icon, a baby wrapped in the tightest of swad- 
dling-clothes lies peacefully asleep in a wooden 
cradle of many colours. The chiftlik of the Tur- 
kish Bey to whom the village belongs, though 
he may perhaps count his income by thousands, 
does not boast much greater luxury. True, a 
rickety wooden staircase leads up to a second 
floor, while the peasants' houses seldom possess 
an upper storey; his divan is covered with a 
tenth - rate Manchester print, instead of the 
more solid tissue of the country; and a clock 



THE VALE OF TEMPE. 125 

which has long ceased to go, or a vase of paper 
flowers, shows the pretensions of the master; 
and there he lives among the peasants, when- 
ever his presence is required on his estates, 
sharing their frugal fare and boorish ways. 
At this hour the village is deserted save for a 
few urchins playing about the well, and a few 
old grandmothers spinning or dozing in the 
doorways. All that can toil have long since 
turned out abroad, some to plough the fields, 
some to the threshing-floors where the golden 
corn-cobs of the Indian maize are waiting to 
be picked and sorted, others to the vineyards 
where the grape is just ripe and ready for the 
vintage. But we shall meet them farther on 
along the road : men infustanellas and leggings, 
and thick cloaks of coarse grey homespun; 
women in dark-blue serge petticoats, and braided 
bodices fastened high up round the waist with 
big silver clasps ; children in fragmentary non- 
descript garments, yet warm and comfortable 
withal ; and every one well socked and shod, 
which is always in the East a sign of compara- 
tive affluence. A large herd of buffaloes, useful if 
ungainly animals, are wallowing in a marshy pool 



126 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

by the roadside to rid themselves of the flies, one 
of the chief plagues of Thessaly. Heavy wag- 
gons full of grain for Larissa, and curious barrel- 
shaped carts laden with grapes and drawn by 
sleek grey oxen, creak slowly along on ponderous 
wheels hewn out of the solid oak. Though the 
race of horses and of horsemen which once made 
Thessaly famous as the home of the Centaur has 
long since died out, there is still many a useful 
bit of imported horse-flesh to be seen about the 
country. Yet, with all these indications of ma- 
terial prosperity, it is painfully easy to see the 
moral havoc wrought by centuries of ignorance 
and bondage. The men are either cringing or 
surly ; they are little better than serfs attached 
to the soil they till — for among the peasantry 
of the plain there are scarcely any who own the 
land upon which they live — and their bearing is 
that of serfs. The women, prematurely worn by 
hardships and exposure, have a hard degraded 
look : even here, among Christians, they are 
treated like mere beasts of burthen. Often have 
I seen them tramp along the road bent double 
under a heavy load, while husband or brother 
slouches along empty in front of them, or 



THE VALE OP TEMPE. 127 

sits dangling his legs from the side of a 
waggon. 

Misgovemment, indolence, and ignorance have 
not only cast their blight upon man — they have 
even marred the generosity of nature. A prov- 
ince which might easUy maintain a million souls 
scarcely suflBces to provide for 350,000 inhabi- 
tants. Owing to the enormous size of many of 
the estates — fifty, sixty, eighty thousand acres 
being often held in one hand — the landowners 
seldom feel the need of bringing the whole of 
their property under cultivation ; and as the 
soil is light, and no artificial means are used to 
stimulate its productiveness, land is often al- 
lowed to lie fallow for two or three years at a 
time. Moreover, the amount of pasture-land is 
out of all proportion to the grain-producing area. 
Thus it happens that of this rich plain of Thes- 
saly not more than one-fourth or fifth is actually 
under cultivation. Yet in good years Thessaly 
has yielded 1,000,000 Stamboul kilehs of bar- 
ley (the Stamboul hileh is rather less than half 
a hundredweight), 1,800,000 kilehs of wheat, 
1,200,000 Ukhs of Indian com, 3,000,000 lb. 
of tobacco, besides other smaller crops of rye, 



128 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

oats, beans, millet, &c. ; and even these figures 
multiplied by four or five would be far from 
reaching the possible yield of this enormous 
garden, were as much ingenuity applied to the 
development of its resources as the Turkish 
Government display to paralyse them. 

But statistics and considerations on the wealth 
and possible yield of brown fields and fallow 
land do not suffice to relieve the monotony of a 
six hours^ ride across the plain when a grey sky 
encompasses the landscape on all sides, and im- 
presses it with its uniform dulness. Right wel- 
come, therefore, was the view when, towards 
evening, the sun, just sinking behind the Pin- 
dus, broke through the clouds, and lit up with 
its last rays the minarets and ancient stronghold 
of Trikalla. Trikalla, " The Thrice-lovely," does 
not perhaps quite deserve so ambitious an appel- 
lation, but its position is certainly picturesque. 
Its straggling houses, interspersed with trees, 
spread up the slopes of an isolated hill at the 
end of a long low ridge which the Kambunian 
chain throws out into the plain of Thessaly ; 
and, rising above the town, an old medieval 
fortress, still jealously held by a Turkish garri- 



THE VALE OF TEMPE. 129 

son, forms an ornamental, if no longer useful, 
feature in the landscape. A quaint square clock- 
tower bears witness to the rule of Latin princes 
in the land, and, like all similar constructions, is 
popularly ascribed to the Genoese; but it has 
long since been taught by the conqueror to toll 
out the hours d la Turque. Trikalla is a sleepy 
town of about 8000 inhabitants, mostly Greeks 
and Wallachs, with a few wealthy Moslem fam- 
ilies and a small colony of Jews. Its position. 
i8 naturally strong, and of considerable strategic 
importance, as it commands the dSbouch4 from 
Epirus down the upper valley of the Salemvria. 
In Hellenic times Tricca was a famous seat of 
learning, sacred to ^Esculapius, and its medical 
university was the resort of aspiring M.D/s from 
all parts of Hellas. But nowadays all that is 
forgotten, and the Trikalliotes are reputed for 
anything but intelligence or instruction. Greek 
schools are doing something towards rousing 
them from their coma, but the intellectual 
standard is still very low even for Thessaly. 
Mine host is a rich landowner and merchant, 
the first Greek notable of the town, and his in- 
come, he informs me, not without pride, exceeds 

I 



130 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

£3000 in good years ; but wealthy and worthy 
as he may be, his mind appears as scantily fur- 
nished as his wardrobe. His political opinions, 
if simple, are, however, at least robust and com- 
mendable : " Confusion to the Turks, and long 
life to Gladstone 1 only it's a pity that he should 
have been born a Bulgar." 



131 



CHAPTER VIIL 

THROUGH THE HEART OP THE PINDUS. 

On the evening before I left Trikalla, the Turk- 
ish Governor insisted that I should swell my 
escort, which had hitherto consisted of ten 
suwaris or horsemen, by taking with me a 
small detachment of infantry. Now doubtless 
a numerous escort enhances one's importance, 
commands respect, and adds to the picturesque- 
ness of one's cavalcade ; but it is also apt to 
impede one's progress, and materially increases 
the expenses of the journey, and I strongly re- 
sisted, though in vain, the favour thrust upon 
me. But the first piece of news I heard in the 
morning was well calculated to dispel any linger- 
ing hesitation. It was supposed that, thanks to 
the energetic measures of the present Mushir, 
brigandage had been wellnigh stamped out of 



132 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

the plains of Thessaly ; and in truth there had 
been of late but few cases of highway violence 
in the province, and those only in the mountain 
districts. Anyhow, the brigands were out again, 
and no mistake about it. On the preceding 
Tuesday they had seized, near Axmyro, two 
Mussulman farmers and a petty Government 
official; and on the following Thursday they 
had waylaid a wealthy Turkish gentleman, Arif 
Bey, the President of the Municipal Council of 
Salonica, who was on his way to visit his farm 
at Velestin, on the highroad between Larissa 
and Volo, and after killing two of his escort, 
they had carried him oflf to the mountains, and 
demanded 9000 liras ransom. After this piece 
of intelligence, when my escort arrived, I counted 
the thirty men, cavahy and infantry, and found 
them not one too many. 

From Trikalla the valley of the Salemvria 
makes a sharp bend to the north-west, the 
stream descending from its mountain home in 
the Pindus between the precipitous slopes of 
Mount Kotsiaka (the Eastern Pindus) and the 
low spurs of the Kambouni, at the extremity of 
which lies Trikalla. To the south the Agrapha, or 



THROUGH THE HEART OP THE PINDUS. 133 

Mountains of the Unwritten Villages — so called 
from the privileges granted by the Ottoman sul- 
tans to their free Wallach populations — stretch 
far away into the kingdom of Greece, a mass 
of peaks and crests of exquisitely varied forms. 
But the ridge which rises to our left is a lofty 
unbroken cliflF, averaging 4000 to 5000 feet in 
height, a gigantic natural wall twenty miles in 
length, dividing Epirus oS from Thessaly. Op- 
posite to the northern extremity of this wall, on 
the left bank of the Salemvria, rise the strange 
columnar rocks upon which are perched the 
famous aerial monasteries of Meteora. Seldom 
does nature show herself more lavish of rich 
colours and fantastic shapes. Masses of con- 
glomerate, cleft asunder by some primordial cat- 
aclysm, have been chiselled by the hand of time 
into the strangest forms of columns, pinnacles, 
pilasters, bastions, towering above the valley. 
The deep ravines which intersect them are 
clothed with the most luxurious vegetation, 
while rain and sunshine have painted their 
grey cliflfs with rich streaks of yellow, brown, 
and madder -red. The ascetic fervour of the 
early Christian ages scaled these inaccessible 



134 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

heights ; but many centuries elapsed before the 
monasteries now perched aloft were built. The 
first hermits of the Meteora doubtless dwelt in 
the rock-caves which still honeycomb its rocks. 
It was only in the fourteenth century, at the 
time when the Servian so-called Paleologos 
Simeon Orosch reigned in Thessaly and South- 
em Albania (1367), that the monk Nilos ob- 
tained permission from Bessarion, Bishop of 
Staqus, to found four churches on the rocks of 
the Meteora, and thus laid the foundation of the 
monkish republic, which emperors afterwards 
endowed and visited. Since then the Meteora 
rocks never ceased to be a favourite retreat of 
Eastern monks, until the confiscation of their 
property in Wallachia of late precipitated their 
decay. To-day many of these holy dwellings 
are tenantless, while others are only occupied 
by two or three inmates. Altogether, there are 
only seven monasteries now inhabited out of 
twenty-four ; and the pious colony, which used 
to number from 500 to 600, has dwindled down 
to 21. No new recruit has arrived at Mete- 
ora within the last twenty years ; and when the 
present generation has died out, the traveller 



THROUGH THE HEART OF THE PINDUS. 135 

will be condemned to stand at the foot of the 
rocks and look up from afar with vainly curious 
eyes at these strange monuments of a time- 
ipired pie^-fo/the ^. o. .he coun^e 
which enabled the pioneers of Christian asce- 
ticism to scale those walls has long been lost. 
Nowadays the monks, true fishers of men, let 
down a L torn their lofty perch. «>d hy „e.ns 
of a rope and windlass haul the visitor up to 
their quaint mid-air abodes. The Monastery of 
St Stephen^ and one or two smaller ones, are 
alone approached by a drawbridge thrown over a 
deep cleft in the rocks. As my time was limited, 
I was only able to visit one of the monasteries, 
and my choice fell upon that which is called, 
par eoccellencey the Great Monastery of Meteora. 
Like all the more important monasteries of this 
group, it was withdrawn at an early date from 
the jurisdiction of the local bishops, and placed 
by special indulgence immediately under that of 
the Patriarchate at Constantinople. Although 
second in size to St Stephen's, it boasts the 
finest church, and a rich treasure of ancient 
books and manuscripts. The clatter of our 
horses' hoofs up the ravine over which it towers. 



136 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

brought one of the monks to the overhanging 
balcony which forms the only entrance to the 
monastery. It is not every comer who is ad- 
mitted to these eyries, especially in the present 
troublous times ; for they have been for centuries 
the savings-banks of the peasantry of Thessaly, 
who intrust their hoards to the safe -keeping 
of these monkish strongholds. In reply to our 
shouts for admission a small net was lowered, 
into which I put the letters of recommendation 
which I had obtained from the Metropolitan 
of Larissa. Their contents having been found 
satisfactory, a servant was lowered in the larger 
net which i, ^ for living freight ; and hav- 
ing taken his place, I presently found myself 
hoisted in mid-air, cramped up in the meshes of 
the net, and feeling altogether uncomfortably 
helpless. Three mortal minutes does this aerial 
journey last ; and it was with a sense of pleas- 
urable relief that I felt the net being caught by 
a long hooked pole and dragged on to terra 
Jirma. I was speedily released from my cage, 
and right hearty was the welcome which the old 
monks gave me. The monastery is composed 
of several rickety, rambling wooden buildings — 



THROUGH THE HEART OP THE PINDUS. 137 

built, however, on solid foundations of stone. 
In the centre rises the church, a small but hand- 
some Byzantine structure, the inner walls still 
rich with ancient frescoes. But the rows of 
carved wood stalls are nowadays scantily ten*- 
anted. There are only four occupants left 19 
the monastery, which once counted over a hun- 
dred inmates. In olden days every monk was 
taught a trade, so that the monastery was able 
to supply all its own wants. But the workshops 
are now empty. The library, with its fine 
collection of parchments and vellum -bound 
volumes, is deserted, and the dust is allowed 
to accumulate undisturbed on its shelves. The 
youngest of the four monks is over sixty ; and 
when the last one dies, the solitary servant of 
the monastery will climb down the face of the 
cliff on the giddy ladder which forms the only 
other means of communication with the world 
below, and the Great Monastery of Meteora will 
be abandoned to the havoc of the elements, until 
there remain of it but a name, ut pueris de- 
clamatio Jktt Again I ensconced myself in my 
cage and was pushed into space. The descent 
was certainly more rapid and pleasant than the 



138 'twixt geeek and turk. 

ascent ; and after waving a farewell to the good 
monks, who were watching me from their weird 
abode, 280 feet above the ravine, we returned 
for the night to Kalabaka, a large village which 
lies at the foot of the Meteora group of rocks. 

The Archbishop of Lanssa had furnished me 
with a letter of introduction to the Bishop of 
Stagos (Kalabaka), and his Holiness kindly in- 
sisted on my accepting his hospitality for the 
night. Nor was I inclined to resist the invita- 
tion ; for, apart from the promise of good cheer 
and clean quarters which the episcopal residence 
held forth in marked contrast to the squalid 
hovels of the village, I was anxious to make 
the acquaintance of a man whom I had heard 
mentioned at Larissa as of original character 
and superior abilities, and whose appointment 
to the bishopric of Kalabaka was looked upon 
as a sentence of semi-exile which he had in- 
curred by his heterodox views in matters both 
spiritual and temporal. He was a man of hand- 
some and somewhat haughty presence, still com- 
paratively young, with a striking countenance, 
eyes deep sunk and defiant under heavy eye- 
brows and a massive forehead, a long well- 



THROUGH THE HEART OF THE PINDUS. 139 

shaped nose, with delicate nervous nostrils, and 
a strange sarcastic smile on his thin, straight 
lips, scarcely disguised even under the heavy- 
moustache and flowing beard. Almost more 
striking at first sight was the evident care 
bestowed on his dress and person. The Greek 
clergy, even in the highest ranks of the hier- 
archy, are generally slovenly in their personal 
appearance. The Bishop of Kalabaka was a 
marked exception to this rule. Buried for years 
in an out-of-the-way village where his only 
associates could be boorish peasants, he had 
lost none of the refinement which with him was 
evidently the habit of a life. The silk cassock 
was in keeping with the delicate white hands 
and the perfumed beard and hair, while the 
bold head and erect figure redeemed the outer 
man from effeminacy. The inner man was more 
difiicult to gauge. His conversation was ex- 
ceedingly reserved, and he circumvented all 
leading questions with a truly oriental supple- 
ness. Only here and there an occasional word, 
a sudden light in the eyes, a silent smile, gave 
the measure of the bitterness and mocking 
doubt to which methinks the hard lips would 



140 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

often fain have given open expression. The 
dreamy, useless life of the ascetes who had fled 
from the temptations of the world to the safer 
solitude of the Meteora rocks, was not likely to 
meet with much sympathy from a man who 
was evidently bom to brave the dangers of the 
struggle. Nor did he care to conceal his con- 
tempt for the pious drones. When I confessed 
to a feeling of regret at the doom which threat- 
ened to overtake the once flourishing colony 
of hermits, he merely shrugged his shoulders : 
" Vanity of vanities, all is but vanity 1 and 
even a vanity which has lived for 800 years 
scarcely deserves a funeral oration.'^ And when 
I pressed him further — " Do you recollect," he 
added, " the parable of the talents, and the ser- 
vant who buried his in the earth ? You should 
have asked the Hegoumenos of the Great Meteora 
to read it to you ? " The point was clear and 
incisive, and required no further comment. 

When, later on, I stretched myself out to 
sleep between the silken sheets with which the 
luxurious forethought of mine host had fur- 
nished my bed, I fell to wonder how this man 
of delicate tastes and refined intelligence con- 



THROUGH THE HEART OP THE PINDUS. 141 

trived to fructify the talent which to him too 
had been intrusted, amid surroundings so rude 
and uncongenial to his temper. He seemed 
in the morning to have divined my thoughts. 
^^ Your horse is not yet saddled, and the pack- 
animals are not yet ready ; would you like to 
come round and visit my school?" A large 
barn adjoining the Bishop's house had been 
turned into a schoolroom. A youth who had 
studied at Yanina and Athens acted as a school- 
master (he had been sent for, I afterwards un- 
derstood, by the Bishop, who paid his salary out 
of his own pocket) ; and as we entered, he was 
pointing out a lesson of geography on an excel- 
lent map of Kieperfc, which covered one of the 
walls of the room. The children, some two 
dozen or more, were dirty and ragged, peasants' 
children, who had to work in the fields during 
six months of the year ; yet there were many 
bright and intelligent faces among them, and 
they answered the questions which were put to 
them promptly and correctly. Some of them 
then read and spelt for their visitor's benefit, 
and did some simple sums on the board with 
accuracy and readiness. With the children, the 



142 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

Bishop's pride seemed to unbend, his smile lost 
its bitterness, and as he patted them on the 
head, their bright, frank look met his eyes with 
affectionate fearlessness. As we left the room, 
I wished him aU success for himself and for his 
school ; " You at least," I said, " do not mean 
to bury your talent in the earth." " Bah 1 " he 
answered, with a hard, bitter laugh, " my talent 
has been buried long ago : I did not bury it 
myself, but others took care to bury it for me. 
Yet perhaps, among those children, some whom 
I have equipped for the battle of life may 
carry forth their talent into the world and 
make it fructify tenfold." 

From Kalabaka it is a long and hard day's 
journey to Metzovo. The first part of the route 
lies up the valley of the Salemvria, between 
shady groves of plane and maple trees, of which 
I have never seen more magnificent specimens 
than in Thessaly. On either side the hills are 
clothed with timber, while here and there Wal- 
lach villages peep out of the dense foliage. But 
brigandage desolates this fair country. Two 
villages under which we passed had been within 
the last ten days sacked and partly burned by 



THROUGH THE HEART OP THE PINDUS. 143 

bands of dastardly marauders. On the way we 
meet numerous bodies of the unfortunate peasan- 
try abandoning their homes and flying for safety 
to the plains ; farther on the Wallachs driving 
their herds and flocks down to their winter quar- 
ters in the lowlands, — ^picturesque caravans of 
men, women, and children, and beasts of every 
kind, their small household goods packed on 
nimble ponies, with here and there a baby's head 
peeping out of a heap of wraps and blankets : 
a different type, too, from the Wallachs whom I 
had seen about Olympus — smaller, darker, and 
better featured, far more nearly approaching the 
Greek type than the so-called Greek populations 
of the plain. Five hours from Kalabaka, the 
Salemvria, which is no longer the placid, lazy 
stream of the plains, divides into three branches. 
Our route lies up the central valley, past the 
military post of Kalamash. The ascent becomes 
steep and rugged ; the character of the vegeta- 
tion changes — we leave the oak, the plane, the 
maple beneath us, and pass into dense forests of 
pine and naked beech trees, through which the 
cold mountain wind whistles and moans. As 
we rise the view expands; beyond the lower 



144 'twixt obeek and tuek. 

heights of the Eastern Pindus, the plains of 
Thessaly reach away to the long low ridge of 
Pelion and the pointed peak of Ossa. A dark 
depression marks the Vale of Tempe^ and over 
it tower the snow-capped domes of Olympus ; 
while to the north, behind the Kambouni chain, 
the mountains of Macedonia rise in jumbled 
masses, fading away into blue space. A Uttle 
higher still, and everything is enveloped in roll- 
ing masses of grey mist ; and in another hour, 
four hours from Kalamash, we stand on the 
watershed of Epirus and Thessaly, on the sum- 
mit of the Zygos, a pass which culminates in 
bare rocks, forming a majestic gateway between 
the two provinces, 5640 feet above the sea. 
Heavy rains have fallen, and the rushing of 
many waters is heard on all sides, for this is 
the home of many mighty streams. From these 
heights the Arathus runs down to the Gulf 
of Arta ; the Achelous, or Aspropotamos, flows 
across the Greek frontier to the mouth of the 
Corinthian Gulf; the Veneticos goes to swell 
the waters of the Vistritza ; and the Salemvria 
descends to fertilise the lowlands of Thessaly. 
Dark clouds hang about the mountains of Epi- 



THROUGH THE HEART OP THE PINDU3. 145 

rus and shut in the view; but beneath us we 
look down into the deep valley of the Arta 
Metzovitico. The sides of the mountains are 
bare and bleak; the path, which is called a 
road, leads downwards in sharp zigzags, torn 
We and there by landdip, and by foammg 
torrents : thunder and flashes of forked light- 
ning harmonise with the wild grandeur of the 
scene. Over on the opposite side of the valley 
Metzovo hangs on to the precipitous rocks. It 
seems but a stone's - throw to its dark -grey 
houses, yet after two hours' toilsome descent 
we find ourselves only at the bridge which 
spans a northern branch of the Arta. Night 
has already closed in upon us, dark and gloomy, 
and we still have to climb up the other side 
of the ravine, picking our way among the rocks, 
the horses stumbling, the escort cursing, untU 
at last, after twelve hours' travelling, we reach 
the welcome shelter of the han of Metzovo. A 
hostelry in Turkey consists only of a roof and a 
floor, already tenanted, perhaps, by unwelcome 
guests ; but it afibrds food arid rest, and neither 
men nor horses are inclined to cavil at the quar- 
ters which supply these two desiderata. 

K 



146 



CHAPTER IX. 

AMONG THE WALLACHS. 

It is almost a miracle how Metzovo holds on 
to the precipice against which it is built. Its 
square, grey stone houses rise tier upon tier, 
clinging as best they may to the rocks upon 
which they are perched ; above them a moun- 
tain-wall 2000 feet high — ^beneath them a deep 
ravine, where, 1000 feet below the town, three 
brawling torrents join to form the Arta Metzo- 
vitico. On the opposite side of the gorge a 
cluster of houses, under the shadow of tower- 
ing cliffs, form the suburb where the sun never 
shines — Metzovo Anhelion. The position of 
Metzovo must have been at all times one of 
surpassing strategical importance, commanding 
as it does the only practicable pass between 
Thessaly and Epirus ; and it is probably to this 



AMONG THE WALLACHS. 147 

cause that the very existence of the town amid 
such inhospitable precipices is due. The pictur- 
esque battlements of the castle, which still over- 
shadow its houses, no doubt mark the site of a 
far more ancient citadel. The chief interest 
attaching to Metzovo arises, however, from its 
being the most important centre of the Wallach 
race. Not only does it still enjoy a certain 
ecclesiastical independence — as the Exarch is 
not placed under the jurisdiction of the Metro- 
politan of Yanina, and is directly responsible to 
the Patriarch of Constantinople — ^but it was for 
a considerable time endowed with many valuable 
political privileges, which were conferred upon 
it by a Grand Vizier of the seventeenth century, 
who took refuge at Metzovo during a period 
of disgrace, and was mindful of the hospitality 
shown to him by the Wallachs in adversity 
when he was at last restored to imperial favour. 
Though these privileges were withdrawn thirty 
years ago by the Sultan after the insurrection 
in the Pindus, their effect has not yet entirely 
passed away. Preserved on the one hand from 
the Hellenising influence of the Greek clergy, 
and on the other from the immediate presence 



148 'tWIXT greek AXD TURK. 

of Turkish misrule^ the inhabitants of Metzovo, 
whatever their Hellenic sympathies may be, have 
maintained their Wallach character ; and in its 
six or seven hundred houses there is not one 
where the Wallach tongue is not spoken, where 
Wallach traditions are not treasured up, where 
the old civis Romanus feeling is not still alive 
— " We are Wallachs, Romounoi" 

The origin of the Wallachs is a question 
which has given rise of late to such angry 
polemic that it may be worth while to reca- 
pitulate briefly what is known of their past 
history. 

More than four centuries ago the Byzantine 
Khalkskondylas, referring to the Wallachs of the 
Pindus, wrote : " They speak the same language 
tU3 the Dacians " (now the Roumanians)—" a lan- 
guage which resembles that of Italy, yet so cor- 
rupt, and differing in so many points, that the 
inhabitants of Italy scarcely understand what 
they say : but whence these people, who speak 
the Roman tongue and have Roman customs, 
came when they settled down in these regions, 
I have never ascertained from any mortal, nor 
have I heard that any one has treated of the 



AMONG THE WALLACES.' 149 

subject." Since that time the question has in. 
deed been treated by many learned authorities, 
and, in the last few years, since the modern 
development of the so-called principle of nation- 
aUties, with all the passion and acerbity belong- 
iug to political discussions ; yet in the main the 
results have been so contradictory that the 
question has lost but little of the obscurity 
which attached to it in the days of the Byzan- 
tine chronicler. 

It was not till the latter part of the last cen- 
tury that the question attracted attention in 
Europe. The first eflFort to elucidate it was made 
by Dr Thunmann, a Professor at the University 
of Halle, in an essay *' On the History and Lan- 
guage of the Albanians and Wallachs." The 
materials for this work appear to have been 
supplied to him by a young Macedonian from 
Mosehopolis, who proceeded to Halle to com- 
plete his studies ; and besides presenting the 
Professor with a small lexicon of the Macedo- 
Wallach and Albanian languages, which had 
been published at Venice in 1770 by the Proto- 
tope of his native town, was able to furnish 
him with much practical information concern- 



150 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

ing the habits and whereabouts of those hith- 
erto almost unknown races. With regard to 
the Wallachs south of the Danube, Thunmann 
arrived at the conclusion that they represented 
the remnants of the ancient Thracians, who, 
after being Romanised by intermingling with 
the Roman colonists and adopting the Roman 
tongue, were destroyed out of the town and 
plains by the successive barbarian invasions, and 
compelled to seek refuge in the mountainous 
regions of the Peninsula, the Balkans, the Rho- 
dope. Mount Olympus, and the Pindus, where 
they maintained a wild and nomadic existence, 
surrounded on all sides by the new-comers, 
Slavs, Petcheneques, and Greeks. They were 
thus closely related to the Roumanians north 
of the Danube, who had also sprung from 
the intermingling of the Roman colonists with 
the old Thracian populations known under the 
name of Dacians and Getes, and who were also 
forced by the barbarians to fly to the moun- 
tains in order to escape destruction; while 
many of them, emigrating westwards, occupied 
Siebenbiirgen, and all that part of Hungary 
lying north of the Danube, of which the 



AMONG THE WALLACES. 151 

Hungarians afterwards slowly dispossessed 
them. 

This theory was not slow in eliciting counter- 
theories ; and already, in 1781, Sulzer published 
his History of Transalpine Dacia, in which he 
sought to refute the notion that any large body 
of descendants from the Roman colonists of 
Dacia could have survived the barbarian inva- 
sions north of the Danube ; and as he failed to 
find any traces of the existence of any such 
nation up to the eleventh century, he ascribes 
their appearance after that date to emigrations 
from the Balkan peninsula, whence they brought 
with them to Catholic Hungary and Saxony 
not only the Roman tongue, but also the ortho- 
dox faith of their Macedonian brothers. This 
theory was further supported by Engel in his 
' Commentatio de expeditionibus Trajani ad 
Danubium,' who accounts for the reappearance 
of the Roman tongue in Wallachia and Sieben- 
btirgen by the drafts of Wallach colonists whom 
Krumus, a Bulgarian king, who ruled in those 
regions, brought back with him in 814 from a 
victorious expedition south of the Danube. 

In more recent years this theory has been 



152 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

questioned by Tbomaschek, who does not con- 
sider the identity of language between the 
Wallachs of Central Thrace and the Roumani- 
ans north of the Danube sufficiently conclusive 
of an identical origin, arguing that the same 
Romanising influences working on kindred 
races, however territorially removed from each 
other, must produce cognate results upon their 
language and customs. But in Rosler's ' Rom- 
anische Studien,' the theory of the migration of 
the Roumanians found its fullest development. 
Dismissing contemptuously all the old argu- 
ments in support of the presence of a Romanic 
element north of the Danube before the thir- 
teenth century, he peoples the Balkan peninsula 
up to that date with the Romanised descend- 
ants of the early Thracian population, claims 
for them a large share in the revival of the 
second Bulgarian kingdom, and then takes hold 
of the Mongol and Turkish invasions to make 
them migrate in a body to the northern banks 
of the Danube. 

Though Rosler's theory was soon attacked on 
various points, it was not till last year that a 
Slav writer, Dr Pic, undertook to assail it all 



AMONG THE WALLACHS. 153 

along the line. His object is clearly explained 
in the short preface to his work, *The origin 
of the Koumanians/ where he says : " An at- 
tempt having been made to rob the Slav race of 
a not inconsiderable portion of its past, both 
in Hungary and on the Balkan peninsula, it is 
time that the voice of a Slav should be raised 
to vindicate the historical inheritance of his 
race." The strong bias of the author betrays 
itself even under a tone of almost exaggerated 
moderation ; but if it robs the work as a whole 
of some of its value, it cannot diminish the 
strength of many of the arguments which he 
adduces. If he fails to make good his conten- 
tion that Moldavia, Wallachia, and a great por- 
tion of Eastern Hungary, were throughout the 
dark ages of history, from the fall of the Koman 
empire to the beginning of the thirteenth cen- 
tury, tenanted by a sedentary Roman or Roman- 
ised population, he has, I think, at least suc- 
ceeded in reducing to its proper value the 
preponderance claimed by Rosier for the Wal- 
lachs during the same period in the Balkan 
peninsula. 

It does not come within the scope of these 



154 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

jottings to give a detailed analysis of M. Pic^s 
work ; but I may be able with its help, and with 
that of the other authorities above referred to, 
to construct a rapid sketch of the history of the 
Wallachs south of the Danube. 

It must be recollected that the number of 
Roman colonies established in the Balkan pen- 
insula was not considerable; and though through 
them Latin obtained as the official language a 
footing in the country, it may well be doubted 
whether their influence was sufficient to Roman- 
ise the whole populations of Thrace. There are, 
in fact, many proofs to the contrary : the Greek 
colonies along the shores of the iEgean preserved 
their nationality throughout the days of Roman 
rule ; the survival of the old Illyrian tongue in 
Albania shows that in that part of the peninsula 
Roman influences were never paramount; the 
fact that many Thracian tribes preserved their 
national organisation under their own rulers up 
to the third century also tends to prove that 
Thrace was never completely Romanised. On 
the other hand, on the northern bank of the 
Danube, in the province of Dacia Trajana, the 
California of the ancients, which attracted colo- 



AMONG THE WALLACES. 155 

nists from all parts of the empire, the Roman 
element must have rapidly acquired a complete 
preponderancy, and absorbed the native popula- 
tion. But this wealthy province was the first 
to fall under the weight of barbarian invasions. 
In 271 the Emperor Aurelian was obliged for- 
mally to cede it to the Goths, after carrying the 
greater part of the population across the Danube 
into the southern province of Dacia Riparia. 
The sacrifice, however, only stemmed the tor- 
rent for a while. One wave pushed the other 
forward. The Huns followed the Goths across 
the Danube, and devastated the whole of the 
peninsula ; and when Attila's empire was broken 
up, the Huns only disappeared to make room for 
the Slavs and the Bulgars. Towns and villages 
disappeared ; the fields were deserted ; whole 
nations were destroyed. During this period of 
confusion, anarchy, and desolation, what became 
of the Roman colonies and the Romanised 
Thracians of the peninsula? Facts must here 
give way to conjecture ; and the most unrea- 
sonable conjecture is certainly not that, flying 
before the storms which broke over the penin- 
sula from the north and the north-east, they 



156 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

sought refuge in the wildest parts of the moun- 
tain-ranges which intersect these regions; and 
that the Wallachs, who appear in the pages of 
history about the beginning of the tenth cen- 
tury, are the descendants of these fugitives, who 
exchanged under dire necessity the culture and 
refinement of town life for the hardships of a 
nomadic existence, preserving only through the 
vicissitudes of fortune the language which they 
inherited from their ancestors. 

The first allusion to the Wallachs is generally 
considered to be found in an episode of the 
Byzantine expedition against the Avars in 579, 
related by Theophanes. A soldier, seeing a pack- 
animal drop its burden, turned to a muleteer, 
saying, " Torna, torrwb, fratre ! '^ The muleteer 
did not understand him, but some of the soldiers 
did, and fancying the enemy was upon them, 
cried out " Torna, toriia ! " and fled, creating a 
panic throughout the army. But when it is 
recollected how many mercenaries from all parts 
of the world served in the Byzantine armies, it 
surely does not absolutely follow that the sen- 
tence in question was Wallach; nor, even if 
that were proved, would it show that the popu- 



AMONG THE WALLAOHS. 157 

lation of the peninsula was at that time Wallach, 
— the less so that the muleteer, probably a man 
of the country, to whom the sentence was ad- 
4ressed, did not even understand it. The first 
authentic mention of the Wallachs occurs in 
976, where a colony of them between Kastoria 
and Prespa, under the Kambouni, is alluded to 
in a Golden Bull of the Emperor Basil 11. In 
the course of the eleventh and twelfth centuries 
other colonies of Wallachs are mentioned in the 
Rhodope, under the Balkans, in Thrace, in 
iEtolia, and in Epirus. In Thessaly, which, 
together with the adjoining districts of Epirus 
and Macedonia, was called from the twelfth 
to the fifteenth century Great Wallachia, the 
Wallachs formed the mass of the population ; 
and it was there that Benjamin of Tudela met 
them in the course of his travels. But both his 
description of them, and the information to be 
gathered from other medieval sources, show 
conclusively that their colonies were the mere 
temporary settlements of nomadic tribes, under 
complete subjection to the ruling races, Greek 
or Slav, and possessing no national cohesion. 
So conclusive, indeed, is the evidence on this 



158 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

point, that it would scarcely have occurred to 
any one to claim any political influence for the 
Wallachs of that period, had not the Chronicles 
of Niketas Khoniates and the historians of the 
Crusades appeared to give the Wallachs, by the 
free, if erratic, introduction of their name, an 
almost preponderating share in the revival of 
the second Bulgarian kingdom, and its struggles 
agaiDst the Byzantines. 

The Byzantine empire had succeeded, during 
the eleventh and twelfth centuries, in reducing 
once more the Bulgarians to subjection. The 
Emperor Basil IL, sumamed Bulgaroktonos, 
after thirty years' fighting, broke up the power- 
ful kingdom founded by the Czar Simeon, and 
Thrace was once more restored to the Byzan- 
tine empire. But the peace which was main- 
tained by the strong hand of the Comnenes 
up to the fall of the last of that dynasty, failed 
to restore permanent strength to the rotten 
fabric of the empire. No sooner had the Em- 
peror Andronicus lost his throne (1185) than 
a vast insurrection broke out, under the leader- 
ship of the two brothers Peter and A sen, 
throughout the northern and central portions 



AMONG THE WALLACHS. 159 

of the peninsula, and resulted, after the vicis- 
situdes of a ten years' struggle, in the erection 
of the so-called Wlacho- Bulgarian kingdom. 
Now the Byzantine writers persistently speak 
of Peter and Asen as Wallachs, and ascribe to 
the Wallachs not only the initiative of, and the 
chief part in, the insurrection, but the whole 
credit of its successful issue. Had we no other 
sources but these writers to turn to for our 
information, it might still be possible to ques- 
tion their veracity, on the plea, fecit cut pro- 
desL The Bulgarians, who monopolised the 
fruits of the victory, must surely have borne 
a part in the battle ; and had the Wallachs 
really taken the preponderating part ascribed 
to them in the war of independence, they would 
assuredly not have vanished again, immediately 
after its conclusion, from the pages of history. 
But there is no need for mere conjectures. 
Slav sources aflFord abundant proof that Peter 
and Asen were not Wallachs, but Bulgarians, 
and, as is mentioned in the letter of Pope 
Innocent III. to the King of Hungary, de- 
scendants from the old stock of Bulgarian kings. 
Nor did they lay claim, as has been maintained, 



160 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

to a Roman descent ; but when the Pope, from 
whom they were seeking to obtain the recog- 
nition of their title, wrote to them that he had 
heard they descended from the noblest blood of 
Rome, they simply seized the cue which was 
thus given them, and with diplomatic dexterity 
thanked his Holiness for reminding them "of 
the blood and the fatherland from which we are 
descended/' The title which these Bulgarian 
Czars assumed — Imperator Bulgarorum and 
Wlachorum — would perhaps alone show that 
they considered themselves rulers over the 
Bulgars in the first place, and in the second 
place only over the Wallachs. From all this 
it would appear that the Byzantines of the 
thirteenth century, in refusing to call the Bui- 
garians by their name until the triumph of the 
latter rendered all further prevarication useless, 
simply set the example followed by the Greeks 
of the nineteenth century, who also refused to 
recognise the existence of the Bulgarians as 
such, and continued persistently to call them 
Bulgarophone Hellenes, until the Bulgarian 
schism and the independence of Bulgaria ex- 
ploded their idle quibbles. 



AMONG THE WALLACES. 161 

That the Wallachs took a share in the struggle 
of the Bulgarians against the Byzantine empire, 
need not be gainsaid. But their share was not 
such as to insure them, after the victory, the 
enjoyment of equal, far less of preponderating, 
rights in the new kingdom. They still remain 
a subject race — pent up ever more closely in 
their mountain homes, until at last the Turkish 
invasion swamps both victors and vanquished, 
and again envelops in darkness the history of 
the peninsula. When they reappear once more 
on the surface out of the ferment of recent polit- 
ical events, their colonies in the Balkans and the 
Rhodope have disappeared — absorbed, probably, 
by the surrounding Bulgarian element. Hellen- 
isation has also done its work in what was once 
Great Wallachia. The populations of Thessaly 
and Epirus have become, to all practical intents, 
Greek — Hellenised, no doubt, chiefly by the in- 
fluence of the Greek clergy. 

But in the wild mountain-ranges which separ- 
ate Epirus, Thessaly, and Macedonia, and espe- 
cially in the Pindus — which seems to have been 
the chief stronghold of their race — ^they have 
outlived the storms of centuries, — a compact 

L 



162 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

population, with their own tongue and their 
own traditions, treasuring up the past until 
the hour of awakening has rung for each and 
all of the subject races of Turkey. It is not 
necessary, in order to claim for them a share 
in the future of the peninsula, to exaggerate 
the part they have played in its past history. 
No one who carries his eye along the map from 
Kalarrytse to Metzovo and Samarina in the 
Pindus, down the Macedonian slopes of the 
Kambouni to Grevena, Kosana, and Servicen, 
and across the confines of Thessaly to Wlacho 
Livada and Elassona under the brow of Mount 
Ol3rmpus, can suppose that a hardy and in- 
telligent race holding such commanding posi- 
tions can fail to make its weight felt in the 
settlement of the destinies of these countries. 
And those are only the bulwarks of the Wallach 
race : they have their outposts in all the neigh- 
bouring towns of the three provinces ; and every 
winter, when the snow lies deep on their moun- 
tain homes, they sweep down upon the plains, 
dotting them about with tents and sheds, and 
covering the pasture-lands with herds and flocks 
innumerable. Adventurous and enterprising. 



AMONG THE WALLACES. 163 

they present a rare combination of pastoral 
virtues and commercial instinct with a con- 
temptuous repugnance for all agricultural pur- 
suits. Almost the whole pastoral wealth of 
the country is in their hands ; among the Al- 
banians they are known only as the " Tchoban," 
or shepherds. Yet they show an equal apti- 
tude for all commercial and industrial pursuits. 
Every year scores of young men leave their 
homes, to return only when their fortunes are 
made. The cotton and woollen tissues of West- 
ern Turkey, the coarse grey cloaks of the Greek 
and Albanian peasantry, the gorgeous gold and 
silver embroidery and inlaid weapons of which 
the Skipetar and the Palikar are so proud, the 
delicate wood- work which adorns the ceilings 
and panels of so many Albanian houses, are 
all the work of clever Wallach hands. But 
after years of toiling in the towns, the Wallach 
returns to his mountain home to enjoy the 
evening of life among his own kinsmen. In 
some respects there is no race among whom the 
national feeling is so strong as among the Wal- 
lachs. This national feeling has scarcely yet 
grown into a political movement. Hitherto the 



164 'twixt greek and turk. 

influence of the Greek clergy has prevented them 
from looking elsewhere than to Greece for the 
fulfilment of their destinies. But their faith has 
always sat light upon them. When the hand of 
the Byzantine emperors was lifted against them, 
they went over in a body to the Latin Church. 
When Latin emperors reigned at Constantinople, 
the spirit of opposition drove the Wallachs back 
to the Orthodox creed. They have since then 
adhered to it, because the Orthodox clergy could 
alone afford them protection and support in the 
dark ages of Turkish rule. But there are already 
indications of an approaching change. As in 
Bulgaria a religious movement preceded the 
political movement, so also among the Wallachs 
it is not improbable that the first step towards 
the assertion of a national existence may be the 
demand for a national Church. Coming events 
cast their shadows before, and a sHght incident 
which occurred a few weeks ago in a Wallach 
village of the Pindus may perhaps be pregnant 
with big results. One Sunday morning the 
villagers collected round the church and informed 
their priest that he had to read the Mass in 
Wallach. The priest, though himself a Wallach, 



AMONG THE WALLACHS. 165 

demurred to their request, probably because, like 
many of his flock, he scarcely understood the 
sense of the Greek words which he recited. The 
peasants, however, insisted, and replied that 
they were one and all determined not to attend 
again at church until the service was performed 
in their own tongue. On that Sunday the priest 
celebrated the divine service in an empty church. 
In the course of the week he thought better of 
it, and on the following Sunday Mass was read 
in WaUach, probably for the first time in his- 
tory. Since then the priest has been suspended, 
the village threatened with excommunication, 
and the church closed by the ecclesiastical 
authorities. If, as the Greek clergy assert, this 
incident was merely the work of Roumanian 
propagandists, the movement may be nipped in 
the bud ; but if, as I believe, it is the first open 
expression of a general feeling among the Wal- 
lachs, the spiritual and temporal weapons of the 
Orthodox Church will be as powerless to check 
its development as they proved themselves to 
hinder the growth of the national Church of 
Bulgaria. It has always been the error, not to 
say the crime, of the Patriarchate, that it has 



166 'twixt greek and turk. 

invariably flailed to allow sufficient latitude for 
national expansion within the bosom of the 
Orthodox ChurcL It was not till after many 
years of struggle and the threat of a disastrous 
schism that the Patriarchate recognised the 
claims of free Greece to a national autokepha- 
lous Church. The same obstinacy has provoked 
the Bulgarian schism^ and has, by estranging the 
Slavs of Turkey, endangered the very existence 
of Hellenism. Such another criminal folly may 
lose to Greece the wavering allegiance of the 
Wallachs, for their sympathy at the present 
moment is of but a negative sort. Their na- 
tion does not probably count altogether more 
than half a million of souls, and it is only 
through annexation to Greece that they have 
hitherto looked for release from Turkish rule. 
But military conscription, heavy taxation, pos- 
sible restrictions on their nomadic habits, are so 
many circumstances which tend to temper their 
enthusiasm for Greek annexation. Were the 
headstrong pride of the Greek clergy to involve 
them in a struggle with their spiritual leaders, 
the chief tie which binds them to Greece would 
snap. Boumanian propagandism is already 



AMONG THE WALLACES. 167 

at work amongst them; and though in some 
place, to emiafarks have been coMy received, 
L .any othe. their word, have found ready 
listeners, for they have been addressed to men 
among whom the pride of race is as strong, if 
not stronger than among any other of the rising 
nationalities of Turkey, and the experience of 
the last few years is at hand to show how 
quickly and irresistibly the spark concealed for 
so many centuries under the smouldering ashes 
of past traditions can leap once more into an 
all-consuming flame. 

This propaganda has generally taken the form 
of an educational propaganda ; and though its 
efforts have been mainly directed towards Mace- 
donia, as it was there that it seemed the most 
urgent to counteract Hellenic influence, and the 
subject might therefore have been properly 
alluded to in connection with that province, I 
refrained from doing so until I had dealt with 
the Wallach question in general. 

This movement is not altogether a new one, 
as seems often to be assumed. It originated 
sixteen years ago in the foundation at Bucarest 
of a Macedo-Roumanian Syllogus for the en- 



168 'tWIXT 6BEEK AND TURK. 

couragement of national education among the 
Romounoi south of the Danube. Substantial 
pecuniary assistance has always been forthcom- 
ing in aid of the undertaking to which the po- 
litical events of the last few years have given a 
fresh impetus. In 1880^ no less than £4000 
was expended by the Syllogus ; and I understand 
that this year that sum will probably be ex- 
ceeded. Up to the present time fifteen schools, 
of which three are for girls, have been established 
under the auspices of the Syllogus, who has sent 
out all the teachers from Roumania (sixteen 
male and four female). The boys* schools are 
attended altogether by 1200 pupils, the girls* 
schools by 250; and notwithstanding the opposi- 
tion of the Greek clergy, who denounce them in 
the blackest terms to the Turkish authorities, 
they are gradually moulding by their teaching 
and influence the minds of the Wallach youth. 

When, however, it is asked what good will 
result from this propaganda for the future of 
the Wallachs, it is difficult to find any satisfac- 
tory answer. They are united by so many ties 
to the Hellenes, that their future amalgamation 
with Greece has hitherto been looked upon as 



AMONG THE WALLACES. 169 

an almost foregone conclusion. Yet the primary 
object of this propaganda is to render that amal- 
gamation more difficult. They are not, however, 
numerous enough to form an independent State. 
Union with their trans-Danubian cousins appears 
to be a geographical impossibility. The propa- 
ganda must necessarily work equally against 
their absorption either by Albania or Bulgaria. 
The movement is therefore only a negative 
movement, and as such appears doomed to 
exercise no decisive influence on the destinies 
of the Wallachs. 



170 



CHAPTER X. 

YANINA. 

Autumn, with ito constant alternations of fierce 
Mtorms and l>right sunshine, is the season which 
rnoHt hamioniscH with the wild nature of Epims. 
Tlio swollen streams rush headlong down its 
narrow valhyn, or leap over its cliffs in foaming 
cascades ; the wind sweeps freely over its bleak 
precipices ; the forked lightning plays among 
its lofty peaks; the thunder rolls in resounding 
peals from rock to rock ; while now and again 
the sun bursts forth, shedding rainbows on the 
rotreatiiig clouds, and lighting up with its tran- 
sient glory the grand outlines of the desolate 
landscape. 

After the first sharp descent from Metzovo, 
the track to Yiuiina — ^for it would be idle to call 
it a road — lies for some fifteen miles along the 



YANINA. 171 

bed of the Arta. Yet in olden days there must 
have been a road, and a fine and frequented road 
too, to judge from the number of hans or way- 
side inns, and bridges, of which traces are still 
to be seen. But the hans are nowadays empty 
and ruinous, and the bridges are only marked 
by broken piles, or by one solitary span spared 
by the devious torrent. Needless to say that in 
winter, communication is constantly interrupted 
by snows and storms, and Epirus and Thessaly 
are temporarily cut off from one another. On 
both sides, the mountains rise grandly from the 
broad bed of the Arta Metzovitico, which is 
presently joined by the sister waters of the Arta 
Zagoritico, descending from the heights of the 
Zagori district. Villages nestle in the shelter of 
their flanks, looking at this distance prosperous , 
and peaceful enough amid their oases of green 
trees and terraced fields. Yet there is scarcely 
another district in Turkey where lawlessness and 
brigandage have wrought such havoc as in Za- 
gori. For the last three years it has been the 
happy hunting-ground of two formidable Greek 
bands, led by two brothers, Bavelli by name, 
who have acquired for themselves in Epirus no 



172 'twixt greek and tuek. 

less infamous a reputation than the mighty Kap- 
itanos Kathrakia in Macedonia. The highlands 
of the Zagori district contain forty-three villages, 
all Christian ; within three years more than half 
of them, and those the wealthiest, have been 
burnt, pillaged, and desolated by these ruffians. 
Nor are they content to spoil them once and for 
all ; time after time do they return to the charge, 
carrying off the wealthier inhabitants for ransom, 
outraging the women, plundering and destroying 
in the mere wantonness of lust. In the presence 
of these atrocities what does the Government 
do 1 Nothing, worse than nothing. Now and 
then an expedition is organised, and a troop of 
Circassians sent off to the hills to find the brig- 
ands; but whether the latter receive informa- 
tion from the terror-stricken peasants, who fear 
their revenge, or from corrupt officials, who take 
their bribes, they always succeed in eluding pur- 
suit, and the Circassians, after living for a few 
days at the villagers' expense, and completing 
their ruin, return to their quarters until a fresh 
opportunity is afforded for another such fruitless 
errand. The police alone are sometimes more 
successful ; for in this province, where they are, 



YANINA, 173 

almost without exception, recruited from among 
the Albanians, they are, as a body, honest and 
energetic. Only nine months ago a detachment 
of zaptiehs was despatched against the notorious 
band of Leonidas; and after six days of ceaseless 
marching and countermarching, they tracked the 
brigands to their lair, and the colonel of the zap- 
tiehs, who was himself in command of the expe- 
dition, slew the robber chief with his own hand. 
But the coup has never been repeated. The 
zaptiehs are neither sufficiently numerous nor 
organised to cope with so gigantic and wide- 
spread an evil, and the military authorities, who 
perhaps alone have the power, are criminally 
supine. Mehemet Zekki Pasha, the general in 
command of the troops in Epirus — a fanatical 
and haughty Circassian, who owes his high and 
rapid promotion to Palace influences — ^is reported 
to have said that, " so long as Greeks only killed 
Greeks, the harm was not very great.'' But of 
late the brigands have not restricted themselves 
to the innocent amusement of torturing unfortu- 
nate peasants — they have even ventured to at- 
tack some of the leading Mussulmans ; and no 
little commotion was caused some ten days be- 



174 'tWIXT GBEEK XSD TURK. 

fore my visit to Yanina by the murder of Mus- 
lim Agha, one of the prominent promoters of 
the Albanian agitation. It remains to be seen 
whether these outrages committed on his own 
co-religionists will rouse his Excellency firom his 
supineness, or whether indeed, as many of the 
Mussulmans assert, his indifference is but a doak 
conveniently assumed to disguise his incapadly 
or worse. But, whatever the reason, the un- 
happy peasants of the Zagori are abandoned to 
the tender mercies of the brigands, and their 
once thriving villages are being fast converted 
into desolate ruins. More than 600 of them 
have abeady fled from their homes, preferring 
misery and exile to the horrors of their present 
existence. 

For three hours our route lay along the border 
of the Zagori district ; and the groups of mourn- 
ful wanderers journeying towards Yanina, with 
the scanty wrecks of their household goods and 
chattels, bore eloquent testimony to the stories 
which our escort had to tell of the Davellis' 
savage bands. After crossing and recrossing 
some twenty times the tortuous bed of the Arta, 
our track suddenly left the valley to cKmb the 



YANINA. 175 

steep ridge of Mount Drysco, which alone sep- 
arates the main chain of the Pindus from the 
plain of Yanina. An hour up the zigzag path, 
carried away in many places by landslips, and 
we stand on the sharp crest of the hill. At our 
feet lies the lake, overcast at present with the 
reflected gloom of heavy storm-clouds ; the pre- 
cipices of Mount Metzikeli rise sheer out of the 
bosom of the glassy waters, but its lofty peaks 
are lost in darkness above us ; over on the other 
side, the grim battlements and yawning vaults 
of the ruinous fortress, which still attest the 
barbaric pomp and power of Ali Pasha, and the 
town, with its many domes and minarets, and 
streets made bright with white houses and green 
trees, are still lighted up with a furtive ray of 
sunshine ; but to the north, beyond the island 
where the octogenarian tyrant met his fate, the 
head of the lake and the distant mountains of 
Albania are veiled in blackness, lightning quivers 
in the clouds, and the thunder rolls incessantly, 
like the din of distant battle. Long ere we 
reach the foot of the hills, the strong blast of 
the storm-wind has swept over the lake, lashing 
its waters into white fury ; and the tempest of 



■•T- 



rri:- - T ^siru 3731 



ran TTUfin. v^sis ZD^fiL is & T»i 

inrUSi tfrmilS tli: -TMrjrvr-r- ^^TOEQIDsr 1TXI£21. lOIxiBr 



^huct TTarii tee?ng — =iie jiksL "iui i:iiiko «3£ Alf 
?i«iiHL ant -iie Tun. Bur Tinma. "nrnsf jbk suqk- 
a"7^, £m -vi^ sith: "zie ^raHs ir :aii uiwtl Tie 
mxi iiu!^ niflCi riHtP^ff ntiT*?Ty hl best Qc^&t 

'>ii '^iuiir hiri aiisca. its ^tiTrnTg ctctt om^Ijeii 
fe^hi^ra: r^i^ nuii-*ir:c« Hrarkle tan toe treis 
if^it^Jx o^ertian^ tiie wnHs of sLULy & ^ariiezt 
and moftque : and uiie neiiL wieH-paved streets 
are crowded witK the ptctnresiae bosde of 
ev^^day life- 

/f iientimental consideracions were akoie to 
deddi^ the fate of Yanina, there would be little 
r^x/m for questioning the propriety of the de- 
ciidonjii of the Berlin Conference. There are 
few duAnctB, even in Greece itself, where the 
c^^ntinuity of Hellenic cxdtiire is so indisputably 
f;Htabli8hed as in the town of Yanina and its 
surrounding region. Here, indeed, is to be 
traced the very origin of that splendid name 



YANINA. 177 

which inspired of old the valour of the soldier, 
the eloquence of the orator, the divine breath of 
the poet, and the creative power of the architect 
and sculptor, and which, at the present hour, if 
it serves too often to colour the paltry ambitions 
of restless agitators, still embodies the best as- 
pirations of the most progressive section among 
the Christian populations of the Levant, Since 
the days when, according to tradition, Hellen, 
the son of Deucalion, made the sanctuary of 
Dodona sacred to Zeus, and bequeathed the 
name of Hellopia or Hellas to the small high- 
land kingdom over which he ruled beneath the 
western slopes of the Pindus, Hellenism has 
pointed the two extremes of human fortune ; 
but through all the vicissitudes of history, it 
has never ceased to live as the civilising and 
vivifying element in its native region. Yanina 
itself may fairly be looked upon as the not un- 
worthy daughter of Dodona. Though recent 
discoveries have removed the site of the ancient 
sanctuary of Jupiter and Dione from the shores 
of the lake of Yanina to the vale of Merovishta, 
some eight miles to the south-west of the modern 
town, there is little doubt that, when reKgious 

M 



txs* 



-ii-^ r--ln.:i-. t-'^^jtzl-ils irroJiAl the 

t:^ d Z'.'^:z^ r vt^ iLt iiiiAbisaiitB of the 

■g^.r^.^ -zi — viiL crr^er from their homes, 

". "::i.:i=r:. iir: TrT^ nf **i Jzfir ^liavya) on the 

.z-L- :4.i_£3 jf lie iiJif ifiich now beais its 

::^*i:- i^i zztzlt ti^r TTt c^eIl^:^ies of Tnildsh 

r:.^ T-i.-ii ^"iinir Li..£ C icinL were mere Tutk- 

>^ ^_i^t«^. zziz ieseerjiiis of the Hellenes 

:^^-: in-^rc .'*tui?ei 7: rssi'r: to the schoolB and 

.Vi.-,?:r^ .-r Tii-i*i^ f T-£i &« liisr anoestois had 

T',».i:'i T.- zi': ZitziiCis^ siziiir of DodcHia. 

ri»: ::ii z»£c>'.'*r :c H^Iifcisni in Yanina must 
-•. •: :*: r:»Tiiicz^'£ rj sinjZe £r3res- The whole 
Ni^.vjLi :z Yicizj. :-:'"AiL5, indeed, an over- 
vi;>.v.-v^ r^j:;;-r-— ;: 01ri5ifar5, — the districts 
.^:f i^^^^vcL A..ir:c7A. il^l^kish.. Tehioumerka, 
jtiivi Tv-hiri.'v:<2:7i 5l:-irinir a population of 
ISO^Vv^ Chri<::/.i:< Grwks and Wallachs in 
:ilmv.>*: evjuil nunir'erv:. suan-rred over upwards 
of 200 villiigt^?, wh^rv che Mussulman element 
is unrepresented 5ave bv the landowners and 
their immeiliate households. The town of 
Yanina, with a population of 20,000 souls, 
counts only 1 1,500 Greek Christians as against 
5000 Mussuhnans and 3500 Jews. But the 



YANINA. 179 

Greek language has retained undisturbed its 
ancient supremacy among all sections of the 
population. The Moslem coming out of mosque, 
and the Jew returning from his synagogue, speak 
the same tongue that is heard from the pulpits 
of the Christian churches. The number and 
excellence of the Greek schools cannot suffice 
to account for this phenomenon. The influence 
of a highly developed educational system, which 
is represented by nine popular schools, besides 
a theological seminary and two high schools in 
the town, and 198 village schools throughout 
the district, must necessarily permeate the whole 
population. But it has operated not to intro- 
duce, but only to preserve, the Greek tongue. 
Christians and non- Christians equally speak 
Greek, because they are equally of Greek de- 
scent. Among the Mussulmans there is but a 
small strain of Asiatic blood. The history of 
the Mussulman annexation of Epirus is curi- 
ously illustrative of the process by which the 
Byzantine rulers worked out their own ruin. 
During the wars and revolutions which con- 
vulsed the rotten fabric of the Eastern empire, 
a branch of the imperial house of Comnenus 



180 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

had succeeded in appropriating Epirus, and 
reigned over it with a few brief inLr^ptions 
as independent despots for the space of over 
one hundred years. But Andronicus III., after 
a successful campaign against the Servians, 
turned his victorious arms against the despo- 
tate, and reduced the province to subjection. 
His success was, however, mainly due to the 
assistance of a body of 2000 Turkish mercen- 
aries, and, in return for their services, he was 
constrained to grant fiefs to their leaders of the 
richest lands of Epirus. Henceforth, whenever 
a Servian or Albanian invasion threatened the 
country with ruin, whenever rival chiefs were 
contending for sovereignty, it was the action of 
these Turkish chieftains, often backed by the 
armies of the Sultan, which struck the balance ; 
and bands of Ottoman mercenaries were always 
to be found, fighting now with one party and 
now with another, but strengthening always the 
prestige and power of Islam. At last in 1431 
the despot Charles, son of the Kephaloniote 
usurper Esau, unable to reduce the revolted 
city of Yanina, entered into direct negotiations 
with the Sultan Amurath, and agreed to sur- 



YANINA. 181 

render to him the whole province of Epirus on 
condition that he should be put in possession of 
Yanina, and allowed to hold his court there as 
a vassal of the Ottoman throne. Six Turkish 
chieftains were despatched to take over the new 
province, and Epirus was definitely incorporated 
with the Ottoman empire. At first it was 
treated by the Sultans with conspicuous leni- 
ency; its ancient privileges and immunities, 
solemnly confirmed at the time of the annexa- 
tion, were respected; and the practice of the 
Christian faith was absolved from the burdens 
with which it was fettered in other parts of the 
empire. The Epirote landowners continued to 
enjoy possession of the fiefs which had been 
granted to them by former despots and Byzan- 
tine emperors ; and though the military service 
to which they were liable under the conditions 
of their original acts of allegiance was rigorously 
exacted by their new suzerain, they were allowed 
to form a separate corps, and fight side by side 
with the followers of the Crescent, under their 
ancient standard of St George. But the power 
which they enjoyed at home, and the valour 
which they displayed upon the battle-field, at 



182 'tWIXT GBEEK and TURK. 

last roused the jealousy of their Mossnlinan 
sovereigns^ and the Spahis were compelled, 
under threat of confiscation of their spahtUks 
or military fiefs^ to embrace the creed of Islam. 
The mass of the Epirote landowners acquiesced 
in the new conditions, and surrendered their 
faith rather than forfeit their lands. The 
Musstdman beys of Epirus are the descendants 
of those renegades, and they have retained to 
the present day the manners, type, and lan- 
guage of their ancestors. But, although the 
influence of their Hellenic origin and surround- 
ings may still be traced in the prevalence among 
them of a more progressive spirit than is gen- 
erally to be found among Turkish Moslems, it 
would be idle to pretend that that influence 
is sufficiently strong to reconcile them to the 
prospect of Greek annexation. Though they 
are as a body the first to admit the inherent 
vices of Turkish administration, they enjoy far 
too large a share of local power under the pre- 
sent system to look forward without apprehen- 
sion to the effects of Greek centralisation on 
their own position. No doubt, besides that fair 
share of local influence which the apathy rather 



YANINA. 183 

than the intelligence of the Ottoman Govern- 
ment allows in certain provinces of the em- 
pire, what the Mussulman bey in many cases 
dreads to lose is the licence and indulgence too 
often extended to his abuses. But among the 
more upright and intelligent— i.e., among those 
who most ardently wish for a change from the 
existing state of anarchy and incompetence — ^the 
repugnance to^ Greek rule is general and gen- 
uine, and deserves consideration, because it is 
founded, not on religious hostility, but on the 
clear appreciation of the defects of a govern- 
mental system which has already worked so ill 
within the present limits of the Hellenic king- 
dom — viz., excessive centralisation — which hands 
the provinces over, bound hand and foot, to the 
tender mercies of the representatives of the cen- 
tral Government, and the constant struggles of 
factious parties, who look upon the provinces 
merely as the prizes of war, or as bribes with 
which to secure peace. This feeling exists even, 
in a lesser degree, among those whose eyes have 
been turned from childhood towards Greece. I 
will not allude again to the Wallachs, but even 
among the most thoroughly Hellenised Epirotes, 



184 'tWIXT greek A5D TURK. 

among men who have smuggled their childreD 
out of the coimtiy to fight for Greece^ with all 
her faults and imperfections, there is a grow- 
ing conviction that, if Greece is to carry out 
worthily in these parts the civilising mission 
which they ascribe to Hellenism, she must 
abandon the narrow traditions of a despotic 
bureaucracy. She must, moreover, guarantee to 
each locality at least that measure of provincial 
and municipal self-government which the Turkish 
Government has been forced to tolerate, and give 
a distinct earnest that Greek rule means some- 
thing better than the substitution of the Norn- 
arch for the Pasha, and the caprice of Athens 
for the tyranny of Stamboul. 

Among the various sections of the population 
of Yanina, there are none who look forward to 
Greek annexation with more dread and bitter- 
ness than the Jews. Descendants, they claim 
to be, of a colony of Israelites who emigrated 
to Epirus even before the Christian era, some 
say as early as the second captivity. Equally 
removed by religious differences from Chris- 
tian and from Moslem, they have had time 
during two thousand years to compare the 



YANINA. 185 

persecuting fanaticism of the former with the 
tolerance, however contemptuous, of the latter. 
The traditions of their sufferings under the rule 
of native despots and Byzantine emperors have 
been constantly revived by fierce outbursts of 
Christian fanaticism. It is only seven years 
ago that a Jew was torn to pieces in the streets 
of Yanina by the Greek mob; and a system 
of social ostracism was inaugurated under the 
auspices of the Greek clergy against the whole 
Jewish community, until the Turkish authori- 
ties were obliged to interfere and coerce the 
Christians into at least the outward observance 
of their own evangel. If such incidents are 
not calculated to enlist the sympathies of the 
Jews on behalf of Hellenic aspirations, there 
are also other causes which operate to make 
them view with repugnance any modification 
of the present state of things. There are many 
peculiarities connected with Turkish rule which 
appeal to the money-grubbing instincts of the 
Hebrew community. The impecuniousness of 
the Government, which furnishes opportunities 
for advancing loans at the most usurious rates 
of interest, the buying and selling of the tithes, 



186 *TWIXT GREEK AND TURK. 

the constant fluctuations of a currency at the 
mercy of vizierial caprice, the very distress to 
which the country is reduced by the haphazard 
misrule of its governors, are so many circum- 
stances which the Jew full well knows how to 
turn to the best account. Whether he consult 
his conscience or his pocket, he has no cause to 
wish for a change, but rather to bless the pres- 
ent system, which allows him to serve both God 
in peace and Mammon with profit. 

It is a relief to turn away from the bitterness 
of party spirit, and the jealousy and suspicion 
which convert the various communities bi Yan- 
ina into so many hostile camps, to the calm and 
eternal beauty of its natural surroundings. 
Yanina no longer covers the same area as when 
Ali Pasha, a king in all but the name, adorned 
it with all the pomp of his barbaric court, and 
swore by his long white beard that his capital 
should equal Stamboul in magnificence as it 
already rivalled it in power. The massive castle 
which he built out into the lake is but a heap 
of shapeless ruins ; no trace is to be seen of the 
splendid palace which astonished even Hobhouse 
and Byron; the gunboats which he brought 



YANINA. 187 

overland from Prevesa at the cost of untold 
labour and expense no longer darken the peace- 
ful surface of the lake ; the wall-like slopes of 
Mount Mytsekeli no longer re-echo the sounds 
of nocturnal revelry, or the wild shrieks of 
victims and of dupes committed to the safe 
keeping of the deep waters which slumber at 
its feet. But the town which has risen out of 
the ashes of Ali's capital still oflFers much to 
charm the eye and interest the mind ; and, if 
the traveller wearies of the picturesque forms 
which animate its streets and quaint bazaars, 
he can pass out from its crowded thoroughfares 
to the gardens and groves which cluster on the 
neighbouring hillside, and watch the varied 
forms of hill and dale, the opposite precipices 
of Zagori, the gentle slopes of Drysco, the dis- 
tant peaks of Pindus grow crimson under the 
embrace of the setting sun, and pale to ashen 
whiteness as the fickle luminary hurries away 
on his westward course. 



188 



CHAPTEE XI. 



"by sum's eock." 



Starting is always a laborious e£Ebrt in the 
unpunctnal East. There seems no end to the 
small delays. First, a muleteer does not put 
in his appearance, then a servant has forgotten 
some article of alimentary necessity, and finally, 
perhaps there is a difficulty with the Pasha 
about the escort. For, alas I there are now few 
provinces in Turkey where one can dispense 
with the latter impedimenta ; and in Epirus of 
all other provinces brigandage is rampant. The 
sun was already high in the heavens when our 
cavalcade defiled through the streets of Yanina. 
The good townsfolk were just streaming out of 
church (for it was Sunday morning), in time to 
gape at our procession, which consisted of five 
zaptiehs or mounted police as escort, myself and 



<< T»ir MTT-r'r'M •nrvi^T9> »' 



BY SULIS ROCK. 189 

another English traveller, two servants, a Circas- 
sian and an Albanian, and a tail of pack-animals 
and muleteers. We sallied out by the Prevesa 
and Arta road, and as we rose over the first 
range of hills which bounds the Yanina plain to 
the south, we had a lovely view of the bright 
little capital of Epirus, its white houses gleam- 
ing amid the green foliage of many gardens, the 
dark walls of Ali Pasha s ruined castle project- 
ing into the blue lake, the smooth waters studded 
with fleet sails, the little island where the re- 
volted satrap was shot down in a Greek convent 
by the Turkish soldiery, the wall-like precipices 
of Mount Mytsekeli, and far beyond, the deli- 
cately sculptured crest of the Pindus already 
capped with winter snows. Our track soon 
diverged westward from the main road, and 
after climbing one or two steep ridges, we 
descended into the small secluded valley of 
Tcharakovista. 

The site of Dodona was, until lately, a much- 
vexed question ; and when Byron asked — 

" Oh where, Dodona, is thine aged grove, 
Prophetic fount and oracle divine ? 
What valley echoed the response of Jove ? 
What trace remaineth of the Thunderer's shrine ? " 



190 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

— there was none to answer him. But the ex- 
cavations begun in the vaUey of TcharaJcovista. 
by M. Mineyko, a Polish engineer in the Otto- 
man service, and continued by M. Karapanos — 
the statues, inscriptions, and other relics im- 
earthed by those gentlemen's exertions — ^have, 
it is generally admitted, finally settled the ques- 
tion, and the traveller who enters this peaceful 
little vale knows that he is treading the same 
holy ground to which the pilgrims of Hellas 
wandered with pious steps three thousand years 
ago. Dodona was the earliest, as it was also 
the most venerable, of Hellenic sanctuaries. 
Long before the development of Greek poly- 
theism, a national shrine existed there, embody- 
ing the primitive conception of the Divinity 
which created and maintained the universe. 
There it was that, at a later period, the supreme 
force which formed and ruled the world was 
personified in Zeus, who received as emblems 
the thunderbolts that shattered the crests of 
Mount Tomaros, the eagle that nested in its 
ravines, the oak that grew on its flanks ; while 
the water which gushed out of its rocks to per- 
meate and fertilise the soil, formed another of 



"BY SULI'S ROCK." 191 

his attributes, and gave him the surname of 
Naios. Then the productive earth was identi- 
fied with Dione, the primitive spouse of Zeus ; 
and Love, the fructifying element in nature, was 
represented by Aphrodite, the daughter of Zeus 
and Dione, whose emblem was the dove, the 
sacred bird of Dodona ; while to the genius of 
Destruction and of Death were assigned the 
precipices of the southern slopes of the Toma- 
ros, where the Acheron led through inaccessible 
ravines to the infernal regions. Little wonder 
that the shrine which thus embodied their faith 
in the higher powers that rule all things should 
have been the resort of Greeks from all parts of 
Hellas whenever issues of great moment were at 
hand. To the oracle of Dodona Inachus goes 
for advice when lo has related to him her dreams. 
The priestess of Dodona foretells to lo her re- 
lations with the father of the gods, and to Her- 
cules the end of his labours. To Zeus Dodonaios 
Achilles appeals to protect his beloved Patro- 
clus : to him Ulysses journeys to learn how 
he is to return to Ithaca. Orestes, the son of 
Agamemnon, consults his oracle ; and Pyrrhus, 
the son of Achilles, weds Larissa, the niece 



192 *TWIXT GREEK AND TURK. 

of Hercules, before his altars. iEneas and 
his Trojans, who have experienced in the fate 
of war the strong hand of the Greek gods> 
travel to Dodona to inquire where they are 
to found their new colony. Verily the shrine 
which thus sanctified the laws and actions of 
kings — which predicted the issues of wars, and 
gave counsel in all things, private and public 
— which informed the ideas and feelings of a 
primitive nation, and often maintained union 
where there was no bond of political unity, — 
may still be approached in a spirit of reverence, 
even by those who would say with the French 
poet — 



" Je suis venu trop tard dans un monde trop vieux, 
Oh d'un allele sans foi nait un si^cle sans crainte." 



But the days are now far away when from all 
towns of Greece oflFerings flowed in to the temple 
of Zeus amid the splendid pomp of a solemn 
ritual, and Demosthenes, addressing the repre- 
sentatives of Dodona, welcomed them as the 
ambassadors of a city which he esteemed of 
all cities the most blessed and the most be- 
loved of gods, for that Zeus Dodonaios and 



"by sulis rock. 193 

Dione and the Pythian Apollo spake through 
the mouth of its oracles, and showered their 
favours upon the town. There is little left, 
save confused heaps of stone, of these once 
world-famous temples. A massive wall of early- 
Hellenic structure, however, still marks the 
limits of the town which grew up beside the 
sanctuary, and bushes of stunted ilex have 
taken the place of the sacred groves where 
pilgrims were wont to wander in a dim reUgious 
twilight. One monument alone has escaped 
the ravages of time and the fiercer hand of man. 
The theatre, where the Naian games were cele- 
brated in honour of Zeus and Dione, still re- 
mains in comparative preservation, one of the 
best specimens among similar relics of ancient 
Greece. It is built against a natural hollow 
in the hillside, just beyond the walls of the 
town, and its fifty rows of stone seats are sup- 
ported on masses of carefully cut, uncemented 
stone-work. Hence the spectators could survey 
the temples and groves of the sanctuary, the 
lofty peaks of Mount Tomaros (now called 
Mount Olytzika), which still bears on its flanks 
black patches of oak forests, and through the 

N 



194 'twixt greek and turk. 

southern mouth of the valley the distant preci- 
pices which overhang the Acheron. 

Time slips away too fast amid the memories 
of such a past ; and when the captain of our 
escort warned us that, if we tarried longer, we 
should not reach our destination before night- 
fall, it was with a sigh of impatient regret that 
I mounted my horse and turned my back on 
the spot where Dodona was. We had taken 
letters of recommendation from a kind old 
Albanian Bey of Yanina, Djemal-ed-Din Agha, 
who owned several large chiftlihs in this part 
of the country, and had hospitably insisted 
that we should make two of them, at least, our 
resting-places for the first and second nights of 
the journey. We had to double back a little 
bit to the north, and follow the valley of Tchara- 
kovista to its northern extremity in order to 
round the lofty heights of Mount Olytzika, 
The gorgeous tints of sunset faded into twi- 
light while we crossed and recrossed the bed of 
a tortuous stream, which seemed to do duty 
for a highroad, and ere we reached the hill on 
which our chiftlih was perched it was already 
almost dark. Its name was Eleutherokhoriay 



«t -r^-rr «»T, »>-• r^rvr^T,- " 



BY SULIS ROCK. 195 

or Free Village, but its freedom, like that of 
many others, had ceased in the days of Ali 
Pasha, and it was now the property of the 
Albanian Bey. The rising moon helped us to 
struggle, without too much stumbling, over the 
last piece of the road, and when we arrived on 
the small plateau at the summit of the hill, a 
bright fire flaming in the courtyard outside the 
house, and the grateful spectacle of a sheep 
impaled on a big wooden spit, announced that 
our arrival had been duly heralded, and be- 
coming preparations made for the reception of 
the tired and hungry travellers. The headman 
of the farm came out to welcome us, and we 
were soon comfortably installed with soft rugs, 
a blazing fire, and good substantial cheer. 

Dawn was just breaking into daylight as we 
sallied forth the next morning from the chiftlik. 
It was one of those rare autumnal days when 
Nature, arresting for a moment her process of 
annual decay, flings once more over the world 
her departing loveliness in exuberant defiance 
of the frosts and storms 

" Which dreary winter leads 
Out of his Scythian cave/' 



196 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

From the summit of the knoll we could now 
survey the landscape which on our arrival was 
already wrapped in the gloom of fading twi- 
light Far away to the east the snow-capped 
peaks of the Pindus floated above a silver mist 
in a sea of rosy light. Straight in front of us, 
to the south, the frowning mass of Mount Olyt- 
zika rose gaunt and bleak out of a maze of blue 
hiUs and vales, wearing on its shoulders a purple 
mantle of dark forests, and on its brow a crown 
of burnished gold. To the west the jagged out- 
line of the mountains of Suli, flushed with the 
warm embrace of the rising luminary, stood 
out in brilliant relief against the transparent 
heavens. But our route lay down in the val- 
ley, and we soon found ourselves shut out from 
the prospect of the distant mountains by two 
ranges of low wooded hills, the outworks of 
Olytzika and Suli, which ran along both sides 
of the valley. We were not, however, inclined 
to cavil at the change. The sun, as it rose 
higher in the sky, beat down upon us with 
scorching power, and the spreading plane-trees, 
which stretched their canopy of yellow foliage 
above our path beside a brawling torrent, af- 



**BY SULI'S ROCK." 197 

forded us grateful compensation for the breezes 
we had left behind u. on the hdghto. while 
there was food enough for the eyes in the 
gorgeous tints which clothed the wooded slopes 
around us. There was scarcely a village or a 
human being to be seen during the long day's 
ride. Only a ruined water-mill or a deserted 
hart showed here and there that the hand of 
man had once been busy in these regions. 
Once, through a break in the hills, we descried 
on the crest of a rocky bluff what looked like 
a Greek convent. I inquired of one of our 
zaptiehs what it was, and received the same 
everlasting answer, **Harab dir.^' (It is a ruin). 
'' What ruin 1 " '' Kim hilir ! " (Who knows 1) 
We halted for our noonday meal under the 
shade of a giant oak-tree, *'The tree,'' as it 
is called in the neighbourhood — for in this 
region, which was once covered with forests 
of oak, there is nothing left but brushwood, 
and the maple and poplar trees, which grow 
out of the exuberance of the soil wherever there 
is water to bathe their roots. Some supersti- 
tious reverence seemed to have saved this one 
relic of the ancient forests ; but lightning, which 



198 'twixt greek and tuek. 

knows not such fears^ had shattered half its 
branches and seamed its colossal trunks thirty- 
five feet in circumference. A few miles beyond 
it the valley gradually expanded. To our right 
towered above us the sheer cliffs of Suli, and on 
a projecting spur the white walls of the large 
fortress-looking chiftlik where we were to find 
our night 8 quarters. The barking of the deep- 
mouthed Molossian dogs, who, from afar, her- 
alded our approach, broke gratefully on the des- 
olate silence which had surrounded us through- 
out the day ; and as we climbed the last slopes 
of the hill, the village of Romano itself came 
into view, among fields of maize just ripe for 
the reaper, and long tracts of rich brown land 
furrowed by the plough. Here everything was 
once more informed with life. From the steep 
mountain alps above us, herds of cattle, return- 
ing to their night's quarters, were making music 
with their bells. Large flocks of sheep and goats 
were loitering on their way home, notwithstand- 
ing the guttural solicitations of Albanian shep- 
herd boys. Even the dingy hovels of the peas- 
antry were made bright with the red and blue 
dresses of the women and the harsh clatter of 



« T^-ir OTTT »'« -n/Nr^xr " 



BY SULIS ROCK. 199 

many voices. At the gate of the outer wall of 
the chiftlik our host stood ready to receive us. 
It was, indeed, more of a fortress than a farm- 
house. A long waU, furnished with small 
round towers, and pierced with loopholes, sur- 
rounded the dwelling. Towards the moun- 
tain, whence alone it could be assailed, the 
house had nothing but blank walls, loopholed 
at every storey. All its windows, iron-barred, 
looked out on the vaDey, which the precipitous 
cliflfs seemed absolutely to overhang. Thick 
walls of grey limestone, big rafters of solid 
timber, staircases of stone, were so many indi- 
cations of the warlike forethought which had 
presided at its construction. It had belonged 
of old to a Suliote chieftain, and had been 
burnt out in the wars of extermination 
which Ali Pasha fought against the fierce 
mountaineers of Suli; but he had himself re- 
built it, and after his fall it had passed, with 
the rest of his enormous possessions, to the 
Sultans, who had sold it to Djemal-ed-Din 
Agha's father. The whole of the population 
had disappeared, either killed or in flight ; but 
the new owners imported fresh labourers, Al- 



200 ^TWIXT GREEK AKD TURK. 

banians from Eonitza and Greeks firom the 
plain of Yanina, and succeeded, in the conrse 
of time, in restoring some measure of prosperity 
to this desolated district Fresh villages had 
sprung up out of the ruins of the old ones ; and 
our host, a younger son of Djemal - ed - Din 
Agha, who had been for fifteen years in charge 
of the property, told us with no small pride, 
which was not unwarranted, that he had now 
three hundred families on these estates. The 
young squire certainly did not look like the 
son of a wealthy landowner who could count 
his revenues by thousands. His somewhat 
ragged clothes, in spite of their Frankish 
build, and more stiU, his hard rough hands 
and bronzed complexion, told us plainly enough 
what he himself repeated in words — '* I am a 
labourer amongst labourers;'' but there was 

still about him that unassuming dignity and 

* 

quiet grace which are the distinctive features 
of a Mussulman gentleman. And as its master, 
so was the house. It was the home not of 
luxury, but of work. The large compact build- 
ing was almost entirely devoted to the require- 
ments of the farm. There were scarcely any 



i< -r*-.^ ^^.^-r'^ ^^^r,. " 



BY SULIS ROCK. 201 

outhouses, with the exception of a large roomy 
stable. Ever3rthing was stowed away in the 
central block; granaries, store-rooms, a large 
hall for the retainers, took up three-fourths of 
the available space, leaving only a small wing 
for the squire and his family, and the selamlik, 
or guests' room. The latter was neither spa- 
cious nor luxurious, its sole furniture consisting 
of a tattered carpet, and a long divan which 
ran round three sides of it, and was covered 
with a faded chintz. But nature made up 
for these deficiencies by the glorious prospect 
which the windows commanded over valley and 
mountain. Opposite to us was the massive 
ridge of Mount Olytzika, more naked and more 
precipitous even on this side than towards 
Dodona, while on its flanks the outline of the 
rugged range of Suli was cut out in sharply 
projected shadows. Out of a deep depression 
in the chain, the silver streak of the Acheron 
could be seen rushing headlong into the deep 
valley beneath us, whence the blue smoke of 
many a hamlet rose in wreathed columns out 
of the evening mist. The sound of song and 
laughter from the courtyard in front of the 



202 'twixt greek and tork. 

house announced the preparations for our din- 
ner. A huge fire of dried branches was blazing 
against the wall ; and by the side, just out of 
reach of flame and smoke, the customary sheep 
was being roasted on a wooden spit, flanked by 
two turkeys, impaled according to the same 
fashion. Three stalwart cooks superintended 
the operations, while the rest of the retainers 
crouched about the court, watching with in- 
terested curiosity the preparations for the un- 
wonted feast. Now and then one or other of 
them would spring forward to reUeve one of 
the ofl&ciating trio, who were themselves in 
no little danger of being roasted with their 
charge; but the spit never ceased to revolve, 
keeping time with the rhythmical chant of the 
assembly. The glare of the fire played fitfully 
on their dark sharply- cut faces and flowing 
hair; it gleamed on the bright weapons which 
stuck out of their belts; it glowed on their 
grey cloaks and fustandlaSf and cast grotesque 
shadows on the walls, to the great delight of 
a deaf and dumb *' simple,'' who vainly ad- 
dressed them with eloquent gesticulations. He 
was a cousin of the house, and its spoiled child : 



''BY SULI'S ROCK." 203 

his wayward antics seemed to provoke rather 
reverence than laughter; for is it not written, 
"Blessed are the poor of spirit" ? and did not 
Mohammed himself say, "Such as these ye 
shall treat like children; for verily they are 
God's own children"? But the most interest- 
ing part of the dinner — viz., the preparing 
of it — was terminated; and after the tamer, 
if not less necessary, process of consuming our 
substantial meal was over, mattresses and blan- 
kets were speedily produced, and we were left 
to our dreams, even before the fumes of the 
banquet had vanished from the walls of our 
apartment. 

The next morning we were again off betimes ; 
for we had a long and steep climb before us. 
We struck straight up the hills behind Romano, 
and the goat -track which we followed soon 
became so precipitous that we were fain to dis- 
mount, and leave our horses to struggle as best 
they could over the slippery rocks of shelving 
limestone ; nor were we able to ride any more 
that day. If the ascent was sharp, it was at 
least rapid; and after clambering for three 
ho.« oL rugged eliffi. .nd th.' h thick 



204 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

underwood, we found ourselves on the sharp 
knife-like crest of Suli, nearly 4000 feet above 
the level of the sea. The western face of the 
chain looked even more precipitous than the 
slopes we had just scaled : there was scarcely 
the trace of a track to be seen — only the ruined 
homes of Kako-Suli, on a projecting ledge, some 
2000 feet below us, — the long line of castellated 
rocks overhanging the gorges of the Cocytus 
and the Acheron, which were once the strong- 
holds of the Suliotes, and the Turkish fort, 
which still mounts guard over their ruins, — 
marked our destination. Whether we had 
missed the proper track, I know not ; but as we 
scrambled down the steep ridge, and our horses 
and pack-animals stumbled, and tumbled, and 
groaned over the sharp rocks and treacherous 
brambles which concealed their pitfalls, I was 
forcibly brought to the conclusion that when 
Virgil wrote " Facilis descensus Avemi,'* the 
poet delivered himself of an exceedingly mis- 
leading assertion. There were, however, no 
bones broken; and after a couple of hours of 
anything but facile descent, we were safely 
landed on the smaU mountain plateau where the 



U -^^T ^N-rrr-r'r. -^r^r^TT " 



BY SULIS ROCK. 205 

** ghost of freedom haunts" the silent ruins of 
ill-fated Suli. Dismantled, fire-scarred walls 
alone mark its once prosperous homesteads ; but 
the terror of its name still lives in the popular 
legends. When I proposed to pitch our tents 
for the night amid its ruins, there was one cry 
of horror from guards and muleteers, " Did I not 
know that every night the spirits of its last 
defenders hover about the air, making the dark 
hours hideous with wild war-songs and lamen- 
tations ; and that no mortal can hear the fierce 
shriek with which they vanish at the first break 
of dawn, without dying ? Had not old Dimitri, 
the miller, been wandering about the hills with 
scattered senses ever since the night when the 
storm drove him to take refuge under Suli's 
accursed wall ? Olmaz, Effendim ! Olmaz ! It 
cannot be 1 " There was no overcoming their 
stubborn fear ; and so we made for the Turkish 
fort, where at least I could depend upon a hospi- 
table reception. Alas 1 Mr Gladstone's policy 
had wrought its efiects even in these secluded 
regions. At the gate of the castle, the captain 
in command of the 100 men who form its gar- 
rison met us with deep protestations of regret 



206 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

that, three days ago, he had received stringent 
orders from the military authorities not to al- 
low any strangers within the precincts of his 
fortress. "We had a hougourouldu from the 
Governor-general of Yanina. He was ready to 
kiss the Vali Pasha's seal ; but unfortunately he 
was an officer, and could only obey the orders of 
the military authorities. Orders were orders ; 
and however profoundly pained to deny us in- 
gress into his own house, Olmaz^ Effendim! 
Olmaz ! It cannot be 1 " However, at the foot 
of the castle-hill there were two hovels, which 
we had passed on our way up, and where, we 
were told, there lived the descendants of the 
only Suliote family which had been spared from 
the national destruction; and there we might 
hope to find food and shelter from the storm, 
which was already gathering about the Eidge of 
Lightning, as the highest ridge of Suli is called. 
But before retracing our steps, we had to per- 
form our pilgrimage to the ruins of the fort 
where the last and most terrible scene of the 
Suliote tragedy was enacted. 

The Suliotes were a hardy race of Christian 
Albanian highlanders, who, by their warlike 



"by suli's rock/' 207 

prowesses, maintained during the last century 
undisputed supremacy in these mountain fast- 
nesses, and often carried terror down into the 
plains, as far as the sea on one side and the 
gates of Yanina on the other. Ali Pasha, the 
famous tyrant of Epirus, after breaking the 
power of the feudal chieftains of Albania, turned 
his might against the handful of bold warrior- 
peasants, whose very independence was in his 
eyes a sufficient oflFence. But for fifteen years 
they defied his attacks, and many a time was 
the proud Pasha compelled to fall back defeated 
from their inaccessible heights. Where brute 
force had failed, diplouiacy in its most usual 
oriental form — viz. , bribery — prevailed. George 
Botzaris, the most able and powerful of the 
Suliote chieftains, was bought over, and a fresh 
campaign planned by the traitor himself, led 
slowly but surely to the final catastrophe. 
Though the Suliotes were never numerous (at 
the zenith of their power they could not muster 
more than 3000 fighting men), the small high- 
land plateau of Kako-Suli was incapable of pro- 
viding for their wants. Ali Pasha, instead of 
hurling his strength in vain assaults on their 



208 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

natural strongholds, simply blockaded them 
within the narrow limits of their barren moun- 
tain home. Cut oflF from the plains which they 
had been wont to harry at will, the Suliotes 
were reduced to the severest straits, and dis- 
affection began to make ravages amongst their 
ranks. The clan which held the northern key 
to their position deserted bodily to the enemy ; 
and gold, which had laid the foundations of 
their fall, was once more used successfully by 
Ali Pasha to gain ingress into Kako-Suli. A 
certain Pylios Gusi introduced the Pasha's 
troops under cover of the night into his house, 
and the next morning Kako-Suli was in their 
hands. Desperate, but undaunted, the Suliotes 
threw themselves back upon their last retrench- 
ments. To prolong the resistance of the re- 
mainder, a large body of them cut their way 
through to Parga, and thence sought refuge in 
Greece, where they lived to pay off their ven- 
geance tenfold on the Turks during the war of 
independence. The last band of defenders held 
the fort where we were now standing : in front 
of them every coign of vantage occupied by 
Ali's victorious troops, behind them the sheer 



(S T>tr «TTT T»« -ar^rtTT " 



BY SULIS ROCK. 209 

precipices of the Acheron. Their position was 
hopeless; but the fierce eloquence of Samuel, 
the warrior-monk, inflamed their heroism, and 
when the worst came to the worst they pre- 
ferred destruction to surrender. As the Pasha's 
soldiery scaled the last Suliote stronghold, 
Samuel and his devoted band retired slowly 
before them, fighting inch by inch ; and when 
the last retrenchment had been stormed by sheer 
weight of numbers, a fearful explosion involved 
in the same ruin both victors and vanquished. 
Samuel had with his own hand laid the lighted 
match to the powder-magazine. Meanwhile the 
Suliote women had escaped on to the rocks which 
overhang the Acheron ; and when the report of 
the explosion announced the final disaster, it is 
told that they raised their voices in a last chant 
of desperate triumph, and taking their children 
in their arms, flung themselves headlong over 
the precipice into the dark waters of the River 
of Death. 

Seventy-seven years have passed since this 
awful tragedy was consummated, and a few 
blackened vaults overgrown with wild mountain 
shrubs alone mark these scenes of woe. Solitu- 



210 'TWIXT greek and TURK. 

dinem faciunU pacem appellant. The shrill 
note of a bird of prey, or the harsh voice of the 
sentinel on the battlements of the Turkish fort- 
ress, alone disturbs the peace which nature 
sheds over the theatre of man's worst as well as 
noblest deeds. The calm of evening rested on 
the wide and varied landscape unrolled before 
our eyes. To the left of the southern chain of 
Suli, which rose immediately opposite to us, 
separated from the central ridge only by the 
deep chasm of the Acheron, lay the broad Am- 
bracian Gulf backed by the distant peaks of 
Acamania, and to its right the placid waters of 
the Adriatic, with Paxos and Antipaxos re- 
posing on their bosom. But behind us heavy 
storm-clouds had enveloped the higher ridge of 
Suli, and the muttering of thunder bade us hie 
back to our night's quarters. 

Nor did these turn out so comfortless as 
might have been expected from their external 
appearance ; and besides, was not the fact of 
sleeping under the roof of the last of the Suli- 
otes worth some slight measure of discomfort ? 
How they had managed to escape the destruc- 
tion which had overtaken the rest of their race 



II -^^T «-rT-r »»« T^^r^T^ >» 



BY SULIS ROCK. 211 

was a question to which I failed to elicit a satis- 
factory reply. The three men who with their 
families tenanted the two smaU cabins, were the 
sons of two Suliote brothers who had borne a 
part in the tragical events of 1803, though 
what that part exactly was, they seemed either 
unable or unwilling to tell. All they knew, 
they said, was that their fathers rendered a 
great service to Ali Pasha ; and that when the 
final catastrophe came, their lives, and those of 
a few women and children who had sought 
refuge in their house, were spared by the con- 
queror. They themselves had wedded their 
cousins, for Providence had kindly provided 
that each of the children of one of the original 
survivors could be mated with one of the other's 
children, and the numerous offspring with which 
the various couples had already been blessed, 
allowed one to hope that the race might yet 
sprout up to new and vigorous life. Though 
remnants of the Suliotes are still to be found 
scattered about the Peloponnesus and other 
parts of the Hellenic kingdom, they have lost 
by intermarriage with others that purity of 
breed which, it is said, enabled them to preserve 



212 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

down into modern times the perfect beauty of 
the Grecian type. And certainly both men and 
women in these humble hovels were worthy of 
their ancestors' high renown ; the men, tall and 
powerfully built, with strongly marked faces, 
in which the deep lines and weather-beaten 
complexion, and shaggy beards and long di- 
shevelled hair, rather enhanced than marred the 
bold sharply defined features. The women, 
more worn even than the men by toil and hard- 
ships, still bore witness to their high descent ; 
and one young girl, who had only been recently 
married to the youngest of the three brothers, 
might well have stood for Milo's Venus, whether 
you looked at the graceful athletic figure, the 
delicate joints of hands and feet, the swelling 
bosom, the slope of the shoulders, and the small 
perfectly poised head, or at the classical features 
of the oval face. Nor were these charms unbe- 
comingly set off by the peasant girFs simple 
dress : a small red fez, secured by a plait of 
hair wound round it, and fastened with a silver 
pin ; a bodice of coarse blue cloth trimmed with 
red embroidered work, and a short petticoat 
of the same stuff, open down the front, but 



"BY SULIS ROCK. 213 

covered with a red apron, and leggings of 
quaint-coloured worsted down to the ankles. 
It was a curious group that gathered round the 
large blazing hearth, while the wind and storm 
were beating against the mountain-side. In 
the corner an old woman in her dotage, the 
grand-aunt of the family, who had witnessed 
with her own eyes the days of the "great 
trouble;" beside her five small children, con- 
fused bundles of picturesque rags, with bright 
eager faces and curly heads; and crouching 
opposite to the fire, while their wives stood 
spinning behind them, the three fierce-looking 
highlanders, whose eyes gleamed with the 
double light of the reflected flames and their 
own enthusiasm, as they recalled for the stran- 
gers' benefit the memories of bygone times when 
their fathers were the lords of the soil which 
they now tilled as hired bondsmen : and when 
the wind howled more wildly, or the thunder 
crashed more loudly, they would stop for a mo- 
ment to cross themselves devoutly, and mutter 
a prayer for the souls of the Suliotes " who were 
about.'* Presently, when the storm lulled, all 
the grown-up members of the family retired to 



214 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

the other cabin, where our guards and muleteers 
were warding off the "ghosts" by uproarious 
song, and we were left to share the room with 
the children and the old crone, who never 
ceased all through the night to moan whenever 
a fresh gust of wind whistled through the rafters 
of the roof. 



215 



CHAPTER XII. 



"and parga's shore." 



In the morning the sky was once more bright 
and clear, and the big rain-drops on the trees 
and the brawling of the swollen torrents were 
the only signs left of the fury of the storm. A 
steep and slippery zigzag down the wooded 
slopes of the hill soon brought us to the dark 
ravine of the Acheron. The stream has carved 
itself a deep bed through the limestone rock 
which, gleaming through its pellucid waters, 
imparts to them a peculiar whiteness. On 
either side lofty cliffs tower over the water- 
course, — on the one side the precipice down 
which the Suliote women took their heroic leap 
into eternity, on the other the bulwarks of the 
southern range of Suli, which stretches away 
almost as far as Prevesa. Dark gnarled oaks 



216 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

growing out of every fissure in the rock, project 
their spreading branches above the stream, and 
cast over it a gloom which even the rays of a 
vertical sun can scarcely dispel. A little further 
on another torrent descends from the northern 
hills of Suli, and the two rivers of Hell, ming- 
ling their accursed waters^ disappear in a wild 
gorge whence we could hear the roaring of 
a distant waterfall. Our track lay over the 
wooded ridge above it, and for more than an 
hour we toiled painfully through a tangled 
forest of oaks, and ilex, and arbutus, and wild 
mulberry, twined and intertwined with count- 
less wreaths of luxuriant creepers, and bright 
with the rich clusters of their berries : — 

" . , , Arbuteos foetus, montanaqne fraga 
Comaqne et in duris hserentia mora rubetis 
Et qu8B deciderant patula Jovis arbore glandes." 

On emerging from this almost virgin forest 
we found ourselves on the brow of a clifi" over- 
hanging the plain. For beneath us the Acheron, 
issuing triumphantly from the precipices of Suli, 
flowed with majestic dignity across the lowlands 
towards the distant haven of Glykys Limen, 
where its waters sweeten the briny sea. Down 



"and pakgas shore." 217 

the face of this cliflF we now had to descend. 
The prospect was not inviting. It was to all 
appearances a sheer wall of rock, with here and 
there a patch of brushwood or a mass of loose 
rubble clinging to its interstices. But our guide 
said it was the Sultan's road, and people had 
travelled over it for generations— though, as he 
added in the same breath that he never recol- 
lected pack-horses having crossed the mountains 
of Suli, the latter statement somewhat detracted 
from the strength of his argument. We had, 
however, no option in the matter. So the 
mptiehs' clever ponies showed the way, jump- 
ing like goats from ledge to ledge; then our 
own horses were driven down; and behind 
them, at a safe distance to prevent collisions, 
the pack-animals slipped and slid and stumbled, 
a zaptieh or a muleteer clinging on desperately 
to their tails and thus acting as a kind of break, 
— and finally all the beasts were safely landed 
on a little plateau, beyond which the descent 
became less precipitous. Having watched the 
exciting operation from the top, we proceeded 
to rejoin our caravan ; and though we too had 
often to transform ourselves temporarily from 



218 'twixt greek and tuek. 

bipeds into quadrapeds, the mauvais pas was 
finally got over without accidents — ^but I shall 
always recollect that last bit of the descent from 
Soli as one of the most break-neck samples of 
imperial Ottoman roads which ever came with- 
in my varied experience of Eastern travel 

Near the village of Ghlyky, which seems to 
have usurped the name of the ancient harbour 
at the mouth of the river, there are still some 
scattered ruins of the oracle where the Greeks 
in the time of Herodotus used to call upon de- 
parted spirits, and even to this day the gloomy 
gorge of the Acheron is associated in the legends 
of the Greek peasantry with the dark kingdom 
of the dead. Although it is only a day's ride 
from Kako-Suli to Parga, we determined to 
break the journey in order to give our horses 
a rest after the feats of equilibrium they had 
been called upon to perform during the last two 
days ; and we took up our quarters in the large 
Albanian village of Turcopaluro, which is built 
on a slight eminence out of the marshy plain. 
Here my faith in my Greek friends of Yanina, 
who had assured me that south of the Kalamas 
there were no Albanian communities whom at 



(( A XTTv T> A -nAi A 'ct c.-r^^-n'ni » 



AND PARGAS SHORE. 219 

least the bond of a common tongue did not 
unite to Greece, was first shaken. My hosts 
up at Suli had spoken Greek as well as Albanian, 
and even knew Turkish, probably owing to their 
intercourse with the garrison of the fort. But 
here was a village, and a Christian village, 
where, with the exception of the priest, not a 
soul either spoke or understood a word of any- 
thing but Albanian. Nor, if our Albanian 
servant could be trusted as an interpreter, had 
their sympathies any more affinity to Greece 
than their language. Their village was the 
property of an Albanian Mussulman Bey, who 
had never been near the place, and seemed to 
let his peasantry do very much what they 
pleased. Most of them were armed; and the 
pride with which they mentioned that they 
were allowed to bear arms while the Greek 
peasantry to the south were not, showed how 
vastly superior they considered themselves to 
a race which could perhaps read and write, but 
could never fight. 

The road to Parga led over a succession of 
low undulating hUls covered with the thick-set 
bushes of the prickly palluria, and there was 



220 'twixt greek and tukk. 

nothing to relieve its monotony save the flocks 
and tents of a few Wallach winter settlements, 
until we reached the coast. Suddenly, as we 
arrived on the brow of a long ridge somewhat 
higher than the rest, the Adriatic came into 
view, its blue waters lapping lazily against the 
grey cliffs, while the land, sloping gently down 
towards them, was covered with well -tilled 
fields and groves of dark olive-trees. Close to 
a ruined old watch-tower stood a handsome new 
chiftlik belonging to Abeddin Pasha, the ex- 
Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs, who, to- 
gether with his brothers, owns a large amount 
of property in the Albanian districts of Epirus. 

It is near this point of the Albanian coast 
that has been laid the scene of two ancient 
legends, between which, however dissimilar 
their incidents, it is difl&cult not to imagine 
some curious connection. The first is not un- 
known to English readers, and I cannot im- 
prove on the quaint version of it given by the 
old annotator on Spenser's * Pastoral in May.' 
"Here, about the time that our Lord suffered 
His most bitter passion, certain persons sailing 
from Italy to Cyprus at night heard a voice 



"and parga's shore.' 221 

calling aloud, Thamus 1 Thamus 1 who, giving 
ear to the cry (for he was pilot of the ship), 
was bidden, when he came near to Pelodes, to 
tell that the great god Pan was dead, which 
he doubting to do, yet for that when he came 
to Pelodes, there was such a calm of wind that 
the ship stood still on the sea unmoored, he 
was forced to cry aloud that Pan was dead, 
wherewithal there was such piteous outcries 
and dreadful shrieking as hath not been the 
like. By which Pan of some is understood 
the great Sathanas, whose kingdom was at 
that time by Christ conquered, and the gates 
of hell broken up; for at that time all the 
oracles surceased, and enchanted spirits that 
were wont to delude the people henceforth held 
their peace." The other legend was recounted 
to me by a learned Mussulman of Yanina, who 
believed that it had been adopted by the Mos- 
lems from an earlier Greek tradition, though 
its memory appears to have entirely died out 
among the Christian peasantry of the neigh- 
bourhood. ''After Judas had sold his Master 
to the Jews for thirty pieces of silver, the 
traitor fled in terror of revenge to the sea- 



222 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

port of Jaffa, and embarked on the first ship 
which was about to sail. Now Judas was not 
aware that the crime to which he had minis- 
tered was never consummated, for that God 
blinded the Jews and caused another man to 
be crucified in the place of His Prophet Jesus ; 
and throughout the journey he was oppressed 
with remorse, until one night, as they neared 
the coast of Greece, where the rivers flowing 
out from the infernal regions pour themselves 
into the sea, he threw himself overboard with 
a loud shout, saying that he had killed the Lord 
his God, and that the spirits of hell were await- 
ing him. But death being too mild a punish- 
ment for the heinousness of his offence, he was 
borne up by the hands of spirits and carried to 
the mainland, where he was abandoned to his 
fate, condemned to roam for all eternity in fruit- 
less search after the kingdom of the dead." 

Gradually, as we approach Parga, the cul- 
tivation grew more and more luxuriant; the 
gnarled olive-trees, symmetrically planted on 
carefuUy-laid-out terraces, formed a thick forest 
on either side of the path; and when we de- 
bouched out of it on to the beach, we found 



« 4XTTV T>AT>AiA'« ci-rr/\T>in '^ 



AND PARGAS SHORE. 223 

ourselves in a small, almost land-locked bay, 
with the town of Parga immediately facing us, 
A rocky island, which bears the ruins of a con- 
vent and of a fort, encloses the bay to the 
south. At the northern extremity of its outlet 
a lofty promontory, crowned by the Turkish 
citadel, projects into the sea; while the town, 
backed on all sides by green orchards, runs up 
the slopes of the amphitheatre of wooded hills 
which protect it from the chill blasts of the 
north and east. Parga has had a checkered 
history. It was the last of the Venetian set- 
tlements on the coast of Albania, and passed, 
with the other possessions of the republic, into 
the hands of France when Napoleon discrowned 
the Queen of the Seas. An inscription on the 
guard-house of the small island-fort — " Pour la 
defence (sic) de la patrie, 1808" — still recalls 
the memory of the French garrison which at 
that time held it. In 1814 the British squad- 
ron which was blockading Corfu landed an 
expedition on the coast, which, with the con- 
nivance of the inhabitants, secured the fortress 
by a bold coup de main. But it was fated to 
be an evil hour for the Pargiotes when the 



224 



flag replaced the tnaikximlhe balde- 
menta of their citadd Wliile dipknuicj iras 
biuf in remodelling the map 4^ Europe at tiie 
Congress of Vienna, the little seaport on tlie 
eoaat of Albania seems to hare escaped tbe 
memory of the British statesmen; and when 
Tarkej, invoking the silence of treaties with 
regard to Parga, claimed its restitati(m as form- 
ing part of the mainland possessions which were 
to be restored to her. King Greorge's Govern* 
ment could find no answer but compliance; 
and the Governor of the Ionian Islands received 
orders to withdraw the garrison, and hand over 
the ill-fated toiivTi to its most inveterate foe, Ali 
Pasha, the tyrant of Yanina and the destroyer 
of Suli. No words of mine can render more 
vividly than Sir A. Alison's account, the pa- 
thetic circumBtances which accompanied its 
surrender. 

'* When it was rumoured, after the Treaty of 
1815, that Parga was to be ceded to the Turks, 
the inhabitants testified the utmost alarm, and, 
justly apprehensive of the consequences of being 
ceded to the Sultan's dreaded satrap, they made 
an urgent application to the British officer in 



"and parga's shore." 225 

command of the garrison, wHo, by order of Sir 
Thomas Haitian d, then Governor of the Ionian 
Islands, returned an answer in which he pledged 
himself that the place should not be yielded 
until the property of those who might choose 
to emigrate should be paid for, and they them- 
selves be transported to the Ionian Islands. An 
estimate was then made out of the property of 
the inhabitants, which was found to amount in 
value to nearly £500,000, and the inhabitants 
were individually brought up before the Gover- 
nor and interrogated whether they would remain 
or emigrate ; but they unanimously returned for 
answer that *they were resolved to abandon 
their country rather than stay in it with dis- 
honour, and that they would disinter and carry 
with them the bones of their forefathers.' Com- 
missioners had been appointed to fix the amount 
of the compensation which was to be awarded 
by the Turkish Government to such of the in- 
habitants of Parga as chose to emigrate; but 
they, as might have been expected, difiered 
widely as to its amount, and in the end not 
more than a third of the real value was awarded. 
Meanwhile, Ali Pasha, little accustomed to have 

p 



226 'twixt gkeek and tukk. 

his demands thwarted, and impatient of delay, 
repeatedly threatened to assault the town and 
reunite it to his pashalic without paying one 
farthing of the stipulated indemnity. At length, 
in June 1819, the compensation was fixed at 
£142,425, and Sir Frederic Adam gave notice 
to the inhabitants that he was ready to provide 
for their embarkation. The scene which ensued 
was of the most heartrending description, and 
forcibly recalled the corresj)onding events in 
ancient times, of which the genius of antiquity, 
has left such moving pictures. As soon as the 
notice was given, every family marched solemnly 
out of its dwelling without tears or lamentation ; 
and the men, preceded by their priests and fol- 
lowed by their sons, proceeded to the sepulchres 
of their fathers, and silently unearthed and col- 
lected their remains, which they put upon a 
huge pile of wood which they had previously 
collected in front of one of their churches. 
They then took their arms in their hands, and, 
setting fire to the pile, stood motionless and 
silent around it till the whole was consumed. 
During this melancholy ceremony, some of Ali's 
troops, impatient for possession, approached the 



"and parga's shore." 227 

gates of the town, upon which a deputation of 
the citizens was sent to inform the English gov- 
ernor that if a single infidel was admitted before 
the remains of their ancestors were secured from 
profanation, and themselves with their families 
safely embarked, they would instantly put to 
death their wives and children, and die with 
their arms in their hands, after having taken a 
bloody revenge on those who had bought and 
sold their country. The remonstrance was suc- 
cessful; the march of the Mussulmans was 
arrested, the pile burnt out, and the people 
embarked in silence with their wives and 
children."^ 

For many years after these tragical events, 
Parga was a wilderness — even its conquerors 
were afraid to settle in its desolate houses, 
haunted by the ghosts of the past. But when 
the war of independence drove many of the 
Mussulman inhabitants out of the Morea, the 
Turkish Government gave the refugees grants 
of land about Parga, and gradually the new 
colonists were joined by people from the in- 
terior who were attracted by the fertility of 

^ Alison's History of Europe, 1815-1852. 



228 'twixt greek and turk. 

the soil, and some even of the families who 
had emigrated to the Ionian Islands were at 
last induced to return to their former homes. 
Nowadays there are scarcely any traces left of 
that romantic episode in the history of Parga, 
save the English broad-arrow on some of the 
guns of the citadel. The population, which is 
composed in almost equal parts of Mussulmans 
and Christians, lives in good-tempered amity. 
Trade is prosperous; and though nature has 
denied Parga the one thing which would have 
made it entirely blessed — viz., a harbour — small 
Greek and Italian craft run into its sheltered 
bay, and convey the fragrant fruits of its lemon 
and orange groves, and its plenteous cargoes of 
olives, to Paxos, whence the Austrian steamers 
carry them to Trieste and Brindisi, and the mar- 
kets of central and southern Europe. Among 
the produce of Parga there is one speciality 
which is held in high estimation by the Polish 
Jews : it is a species of sweet lemon which is 
prepared and candied in a peculiar way for 
their markets ; and so great is the demand for 
it at the time of the Passover feasts, that, when 
the crop is deficient, it commands the most 



*( A^TTN T>4T>/N4'a «TX/%T>T;»'> 



AND PARGAS SHORE. 229 

fabulous prices. Its flavour is perhaps more 
delicate than that of other species, but I con- 
fess I was unable to discover what peculiar 
excellency it possessed. 

The castle is a picturesque Venetian fortress 
with straggling walls running up the hillside, 
but can scarcely possess at the present day any 
strategical value. I was, however, able to judge 
of it only from the outside, as here again the 
ofiicer in command met me with the same non 
possumus as at Suli. By a strange coincidence, 
he too had received a few days before stringent 
orders from Yanina not to allow any travellers 
within the walls of his stronghold. 



230 



CHAPTER XIIL 

AMONG THE ALBANIANS OF SOUTHERN EPIRUS. 

From Parga I determiDed to visit the mountain 
district of the Tchamouria — a region almost 
exclusively held by Mussulman Albanians, and 
where the information I had received at Yanina 
left me little doubt that a strong and genuine 
agitation was in progress against Greek annexa- 
tion. Bidding farewell to the bright little town 
of Parga, we turned once more into the thick 
groves of olive-trees which we had crossed on 
our way from Suli ; but about three-quarters of 
an hour from the shore, we struck northwards 
over the hills, and soon found ourselves once 
more among bleak and rugged uplands. A nar- 
row dejfile between limestone rocks leads into the 
plain of Margariti, a fertile table-land locked in 
on all sides by hills, which is the heart of the 



THE ALBANIANS OF SOUTHERN EPIRUS. 231 

Tchamouria, thougli on most maps the latter 
name is given to a district south of the Acheron, 
between that river and Prevesa. The mistake is 
much the same as if geographers applied the 
name of British Isles exclusively to the Channel 
Islands. The limits of the Albanian-speaking 
districts of Epirus south of the Kalamas may be 
roughly defined as follows : Starting from the 
Kalamas near the sharp bend which that river 
takes to the north at the foot of Mount Lubin- 
itza, they follow the crest of the amphitheatrical 
range of Suli as far as the gorge of the Acheron. 
In that neighbourhood, probably owing to the 
influence which the Suliote tribe at one time 
enjoyed, they drop over to the east into the val- 
ley of the Luro, and follow its basin as far as the 
peninsula on which Prevesa is situated, where 
the Greek element resumes its preponderancy. 
Within these outer limits of the Albanian tongue 
the Greek element is not unrepresented, and in 
some places, as about Paramythia, for instance, 
it predominates ; but, on the whole, the above- 
defined region may be looked upon as essentially 
Albanian. In this, again, there is an inner tri- 
angle which is purely Albanian — viz., that which 



'•'►'» 



r5r Twurr greek akd turk. 

lk$ lupTveeii ibe sm and the Ealamas on the one 
hazKi. and the waters of the Vuvo on the other. 
With the excepdco of Paiga and one or two 
small hamkis along the shore, and a few Greek 
c^[r}*jis on Albanian estates, the inhabitants of 
this evMintiT ane pure Tchamis — a name which, 
notwirhstandinsT Von Hahns more elaborate in- 
terpr^:ation« I am inclined to derive simply from 
the ancient appellation of the Ealamas, the Thy- 
amis, on both banks of which stream the Alban- 
ian triK^ of the Tchamis, itself a subdivision of 
the Tosks, has been settled £jx)m times immemo- 
riaL From the mountain fastnesses which en- 
close this inner triangle, the Tchamis spread out 
and extended their influence east and south ; and 
the name of Tchamouria, which is especially ap- 
plied to the southernmost Albanian settlements 
in Epirus, was probably given to that district by 
themselves as an emphatic monument of their 
supremacy ; but it cannot belong less rightfully 
to the centre, where they hold undivided sway. 
The slopes of the hills which surrounded the 
oblong plateau, at the southern extremity of 
which we were now standing, were dotted about 
with numerous villages, and on the eastern side 



THE ALBANIANS OF SOUTHERN EPIRUS. 233 

the slender minarets of Margariti were conspic- 
uous amidst masses of green foliage and the 
square flat roofs of massive fortress-like houses. 
Margariti is the capital of the district, though 
it is scarcely larger than Mazaraki, the highest 
houses of which could be descried above an 
intervening spur at the northern end of the 
valley. An hour's ride along the foot of the 
eastern hills brought us right up to Margariti. 
Our visit proved to be singularly well-timed, for 

Pasha, the Governor of , himself one 

of the most active promoters of the League in 
Epirus, had arrived on the preceding day to 
superintend the enrolment of the Redifs, or first 
ban of the reserves, who had just been called 
under arms. Moreover, it was the first day of 
Bairam, and the whole population had turned 
out in holiday attire to celebrate this doubly 
auspicious occasion. Groups of tall, handsome 
mountaineers, decked out in clean fustanella^ 
and gorgeous embroidered jackets, were loiter- 
ing about the streets ; and their proud bearing, 
more even than the weapons which bristled in 
their belts, showed clearly that we were among 
an eminently warlike race. The arrival of two 



234 'twixt geeec a5D ttsk. 

(oreignen only added to the excitement whkh 
was visible in every face ; and we were soon sof- 
ronnded bjr self-constitnted guides, who volim- 
teered to lead us to the Pasha's residence. As 
we were already old acquaintances, our reception 
was most cordial Quarters were soon found for 
us in one of the few Christian houses of the place; 
and we received a pressing invitation to be pres- 
ent at a great demonstration which was to come 
off on the following day at MazarakL 

While our Christian host was preparing the 
evening banquet, we strolled about the quaint 
little town, which counts nearly 4000 inhabit- 
ants, of which only a small fraction are Chris- 
tians. It is built in an amphitheatre formed by 
two spurs which project out of the main ridge 
westwards into the plain. The principal portion 
of the town — i.e., the bazaars and the houses of 
the lower classes — lies in the hollow, while the 
residences of the wealthier citizens and beys 
occupy the hill-slopes. The summit of the steep 
bluff to the south is crowned by an imposing 
castle, built by Ali Pasha to check the bold 
mountaineers, whom he never succeeded in com- 
pletely subduing. The grey walls of the solid 



THE ALBANIANS OF SOUTHERN EPIRUS. 235 

stone houses, square and massive, would form a 
somewhat monotonous ensembley were they not 
relieved by the luxuriant and varied tints of 
poplar, chestnut, and walnut trees, and the pic- 
turesque domes and minarets of the mosques. 
The bazaars were closed on account of the fes- 
tival ; but as there is no local industry in this 
district, they were scarcely likely to present any 
features of special interest, for the wants of the 
people whom they supply are of the simplest 
order. When we returned to our quarters, there 
was, however, alas ! no supper ready. An East- 
ern host would rather keep his guests starving 
than serve them a modest but hasty meal, which 
would not, in his opinion, do credit to his hos- 
pitality. But coflfee and cigarettes, and cigar- 
ettes and raki, combined with the garrulousness 
of Mr Triantaphilos himself, helped to while 
away the time. Although a Christian and a 
Greek, and in a town where the Mussulman Al- 
banian element was supreme, Mr Triantaphilos 
seemed to have little to complain of, either for 
himself or his community. His leanings to- 
wards Hellenism were eminently Platonic, his 
chief anxiety appearing to be lest a war should 



l:\n rrisr sssE ^SD rrRy, 



jcLvniiaaxst n^ ^nczacss wim die GavprnTnent ; 
'w'^.iie. m ^iie 'icius aamL iie iefflnirf coiLirbiced 
^laz ^iie ^Tteds :oiiiii nev^r make hiiiL mofe 
iian he urea»iv waa — vix* a maniHST of the 
irmiinp-iL OioneiL — a proud poation^ upon 
wiiii^ii ne iiii oi^c iuL ca lay proper atcesaL At 
i^n^h tihe repast appealed, and it certainly jus* 
tir^ed the lon^ waiting: Besides the inevitable 
Afi^p, fowU, torkevB, geeae passed saccessiYely 
tbroogh the indefatigable carrer's fingers ; I say 
fingers a^lvwedly — for thongh knives and forks 
were provided for the European guests, mine 
host evidently never dreamed that they could 
be u»ed for the purpose of carving. 

The fifBt part of the programme the next day 
waft to attend the Pasha's levee. In the comer 
of a largo and lofty room, the only adornment 
of which conflisted in the brilliant carpets which 
liiiotl throe-quarters of the floor, and the delicate 
wood-work of tho panels and painted ceiling, his 
ISxoollotiov squatted more Turcorum on a heap 
of rugH. Wo took up our places beside him, and 
mHM\ !M^\v iip|K^rontly the whole male population 
of Mai^^riti defile before us> — Imaums and 
K«idi;j^ with grei'Q turlwuis and flowing kaftans. 



THE ALBANIANS OF SOUTHERN EPIRUS. 237 

Ulemas with white turbans, and Albanians of 
every rank and class, differentiated only by the 
fulness of their starched petticoats, the brilliancy 
of their jackets, and the gorgeousness of their 
belts, into which daggers and pistols were stuck 
with indiscriminate profusion. But to detect 
the rank of every visitor, it was only necessary 
to watch the Pasha. Himself an Albanian of 
these parts, and the owner of large estates in 
the Tchamouria, he was evidently versed in the 
jealous rules of local etiquette, and according to 
the standing of every guest he modified his greet- 
ing, now saluting them only with a faint motion 
of the hand to heart, lips, and forehead, now 
rising on one knee to perform the salutation, 
now on both, and now again standing full up- 
right to welcome some personage of transcendent 
distinction. The code of etiquette is rigid in all 
parts of the East, but nowhere more so than in 
Albania. The reason for this is not far to seek 
— it lies in the fundamental constitution of Al- 
banian society. It is a society made up of castes. 
In Northern Albania, where clan distinctions 
are more strongly marked, especially among the 
Christian tribes, the distinction of castes has been 



238 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

slightly overshadowed by the more obvious feat- 
ures of the clan system ; but it exists throughout 
Albania, and is pre-eminent among the Tchamis. 
The highest of these castes is that of the warriors, 
who are at the same time the landowners ; next 
to them rank the artisans and traders ; then the 
shepherds ; and lastly the husbandmen. At the 
first blush it might appear that this classifica- 
tion was arbitrary, as there are many among 
the smaller arm-bearing landowners who till 
their own soil, while others combine trading 
with farming; and amoDg the shepherds and 
the husbandmen the larger majority also carry 
arms, and are only too prone to lay aside the 
crook or the plough in favour of the rifle or the 
lance. But this objection is merely superficial. 
Every man's caste is determined by his chief 
avocation. The warrior-landlord does not cease 
to be the warrior-landlord because he takes a 
share in the labours of his peasantry or sells the 
produce of his estates ; but the artisan and the 
shepherd and the husbandman do not rise out 
of their respective castes because they are al- 
ways ready to follow their leaders on the war- 
path. The chief proofs that this rigid distinc- 



THE ALBANIANS OF SOUTHERN EPIRUS. 239 

tion exists are furnished by the two undisputed 
facts that professions in Albania are hereditary, 
and that marriage is limited almost exclusively 
to between families of the same profession. The 
landowner's sons inherit his estates ; if he have 
no male issue, his eldest daughter's husband, or, 
if female issue also fail, then the next male of 
kin. The artisan's son is an artisan, and so on. 
No Albanian would ever think of changing his 
own calling or of bringing his children up to 
another calling than his own. In like man- 
ner with regard to marriages. A squire's son 
marries a squire's daughter ; he would no more 
wed an artisan's, than an artisan would give his 
daughter to a shepherd or a tiller of the soil. 
The line is sharply defined ; none would ever 
dream of overstepping it. It has been thus 
drawn for ages, and in the Albanian's eyes it 
requires no other sanction. These four castes 
may crystallise into diflferent social masses ac- 
cording to local custom. In the north and 
centre, especially among the Christian Al- 
banians, the clan formation prevails, as we 
have already said ; in other parts — about Scu- 
tari, Elbassan, and Berat, for instance — small 



240 'twixt greek and tube. 

confederacies have fonned themselves around 
tlie large towns which rule them through 
their landed aristocracy; in the souths with 
which we are more especially concerned, the 
Albanians group themselves around the lead- 
ing families, their relations with those families 
resembling sometimes those of feudal retainers, 
sometimes those of Roman clients. But what- 
ever the social agglomerate may be, those four 
distinct factors invariably enter into its com- 
position. The same hard and fast laws which 
govern the relations of the castes with each 
other within the social group which they com- 
pose, equally govern their relations with the 
corresponding castes of other groups. Though, 
as a rule, there is little intimate intercourse be- 
tween the different groups, still there is nothing 
to prevent a shepherd of the north marrying a 
shepherd's daughter of the south ; but it would 
be just as unbecoming for a squire from Scutari 
to wed an artisan's daughter from the Tcha- 
mouria, as to contract a mesolUance in his own 
native town. It is on the universality of these 
caste distinctions throughout Albania, that the 
leaders of the Albanian movement found their 



THE ALBANIANS OF SOUTHERN EPIBUS. 241 

hopes of welding the nation into a single homo- 
geneous mass. The grouping of claus, con- 
federacies, and families (families in the more 
comprehensive sense of the word, including re- 
tainers and clients), is, according to them, a 
mere adventitious and secondary formation. 
The elementary formation upon which the whole 
social structure rests, is the division of castes, 
and that is common to all Albania. 

The levee ended, we mounted our horses and 
rode over the plain, rounding the spur which is 
projected into it from the western ridge of hills, 
towards Mazaraki, where a great gathering of 
the Tchamis had been convoked. The careful 
cultivation of the soil, and the number of vil- 
lages clustering on the slopes of the mountains, 
showed how populous this district is. Most 
of the notables of Margariti accompanied the 
Pasha, mounted on every variety of horse and 
mule ; even the modest donkey was not unre- 
presented in the cavalcade, which glittered in 
the sunshine with the rainbow tints of oriental 
dress. Some hundred bold mountaineers on 
foot careered merrily in front of us, uttering 
wild war-whoops, and discharging in the air 

Q 



242 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

their bell-mouthed pistols and ancient match- 
locks with interminable barrels. After a couple 
of hours' smart riding, we reached the meadow 
where the demonstration was to take place. It 
was indeed a striking spectacle. Not less than 
2000 Albanians had responded to the call. As 
we took up our places on the carpets which had 
been spread for the Pasha's party under the 
shadowing branches of an olive -grove which 
fringed two sides of the meadow, the whole 
assemblage rose to their feet and saluted their 
leader with a long low shout. The scene was 
one of surpassing solemnity. The picturesque 
groups of mountaineers, their red caps and 
white fustanellas contrasting with the green 
meadow, their strange uncouth weapons gleam- 
ing in the sunshine, the grey houses of Maza- 
raki nestling among trees on the slopes of the 
western hills, the wooded heights behind them, 
and in the background distant ranges of blue 
mountains rising tier above tier against the 
brilliant sky. Our host rose in response to the 
acclamations of the meeting, no longer the stolid 
Turkish Pasha, but the enthusiastic patriot; 
and as the winged words flew from his lips, he 



THE ALBANIANS OF SOUTHERN EPIKUS. 243 

seemed to breathe bis very soul into the assem- 
bled multitude, until, when the closing sentence 
fell upon them, every man took it up and 
repeated it with the full power of two thousand 
healthy lungs, " Long live the autonomy of Al- 
bania 1" Then came a striking incident. Among 
the mountaineers gathered on the meadow, there, 
were many who belouged to villages and fami- 
lies between whom there existed ancient feuds. 
Solemnly these bitter foes of yesterday walked 
up towards the Pasha and bound themselves 
over, with the kiss of peace, to abjure their 
quarrels for evermore, in view of the national 
peril. Such a thing has never been seen, the 
Pasha told me, within the memory of man. 
" And look there," he added, pointing to a small 
knot of mountaineers — " those are Christians. 
Hitherto they have always held aloof from their 
Mussulman neighbours, but to-day they have 
come unsolicited to join in the common demon- 
stration. There are not many Christians in the 
Tchamouria, but when arms are distributed, I 
shall give them with the same confidence to 
Boutro (Peter) as to Ahmed. For, mind you, it 
is not with those old matchlocks that they can 



244 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

fight the Greeks, however brave and fearless 
they may be. The gist of my speech was that 
the nation was in danger, and that I had come 
to supply them with arms and organise their 
resistance, that they might defend the liberties 
of a united and independent Albania." 

In the evening we were the Pasha's guests^ 
and after supper he entered at great length into 
the scope and signification of the Albanian 
movement, and fully confirmed what I had 
gathered of its bearing from the members of the 
League in Yanina. In Europe it was the habit 
to denounce the League as the mere docile in- 
strument of Turkish hostility towards Greece. 
The Albanians, however, were neither hostile to 
Greece nor slaves to Turkey. They did not for- 
get that many of their own kith and kin had 
bled for Greece during the war of independ- 
ence, and that at the present day the King of 
Greece counted 200,000 Albanians among his 
subjects. Nor did even the Mussulmans, who 
were bound to Turkey by the bond of a common 
religion, forget that it was only by dint of fight- 
ing that their fathers and forefathers had con- 
quered from the Sultans the privileges which 



THE ALBANIANS OF SOUTHERN EPIRUS, 245 

they were still allowed to enjoy. They claimed 
at the present day, when the voice of every 
nationality in the East was being heard, that 
theirs also should be listened to. They were 
determined not to allow themselves to be ab- 
sorbed either by Greece or by Turkey. The 
watchword of the hour ivas the provinces of the 
Balkans for the nationalities of the Balkans, 
and the Albanians had taken it up in order to 
assert the right of the Albanians to Albania. 
If Greece refused to recognise that right, so 
much the worse for Greece. If Turkey refused 
to acknowledge it, so much the worse for Turkey. 
Nature had been a stern mother to Albania, but 
she had at least given the Albanians stout hearts 
and strong sinews to fight their own battles, 
and those were in future the only battles which 
they would fight. The Tchamis south of the Kal- 
amas were a small and insignificant tribe, four 
or five times outnumbered by the Greeks of 
Southern Epirus, and it might be contended 
that so t^rifling a minority had no claim to a 
hearino: in the settlement of the destinies of 
that province. But they had the most sacred 
of duties to fulfil. They were placed as senti- 



246 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

nels on the southern outposts of Albania, and 
they were bound to defend with the last drop 
of their blood the post of honour and of peril 
which nature had intrusted to them. They had 
no rancorous animosity towards Hellenism. On 
the contrary, they had in many ways felt its 
injQuence for good. They owed to it much of 
the little education they possessed. But they 
were not disposed to sacrifice their birthright 
to the ambition of Athenian politicians. Let 
Greece treat with them on a footing of equality, 
and there was nothing to prevent an intimate 
union between the two nations. But they were 
not prepared to exchange the rule of Constan- 
tinople for that of Athens, and the measure of 
liberty which they enjoyed under the Sultan's sov- 
ereignty for the incubus of Greek centralisation. 
To prevent such a consummation, they relied 
not only on their own arms, and on those of the 
Albanians north of the Kalamas whose essential 
interests were equally at stake with their own, 
but on the justice of Europe. It was no reli- 
gious fanaticism against their Christian neigh- 
bours which inspired the movement, but their 
strong national settlement, which, in Albania 



THE ALBANIANS OF SOUTHERN EPIRUS. 247 

alone, almost of all countries in the East, was 
more powerful than sectarian prejudices. The 
,. Tchamis had the reputation of being the most 
fanatical among Moslem Albanians. Keligion 
sat, perhaps, more lightly on the Mussulmans 
of northern and central Albania; but the 
Tchamis were Albanians first, and only in the 
second place followers of the Prophet. Albania 
was determined to vindicate her right to inde- 
pendence against all comers, and no religious 
considerations would restrain the Tchamis from 
joining in the struggle for the common cause, 
whatever faith its adversaries might profess. 
The European statesmen of all parties have 
repeatedly stated that their policy is directed 
solely towards the protection of the populations 
of the East without reference to creed distinc- 
tions. How can they refuse to listen to the 
Albanians, who claim a hearing, not as Chris- 
tians or as Mussulmans, but on the ground of a 
nationality common to both ? 

These are the leading ideas which appear to 
inspire the present movement, and which I have 
heard out of every Albanian's mouth, now 
couched in stronger, and now in more guarded 



248 'twixt greek and tubk. 

terms, according to the speaker's position of^ 
character. Its prospects, and the turn which 
it is likely to take, depend upon the attitude of 
the Turkish and Greek Governments respective- 
ly towards it. The Greeks do not yet appear 
to have appreciated the immense value of the 
support which they might obtain from Albania 
by the simple recognition of its rights, and by 
renouncing vain dreams of annexation. On the 
other hand, the Porte scarcely seems to have 
realised on what a slender basis its rule in Al- 
bania rests. To encourage and strengthen the 
League for momentary objects, it has gradually 
withdrawn its military and administrative hold 
on the Albanian provinces of the empire. It 
has handed over all the public offices and ad- 
ministrative posts to Albanians ; and the troops 
who garrison the country, with the exception of 
those under Dervish Pasha at Scutari, are Al- 
banian Nizams and Redifs. On the day when 
Greek advances or Turkish stubbornness induce 
the League to give the word of command, the 
officials and the troops throughout Albania will 
throw oflf the Stamboulina and the Turkish 



THE ALBANIANS OF SOUTHERN EPIRUS. 249 

^. unifonn, and appear as what they are, notwith- 
standing the disguise they wear to-day — the 
servants not of the Porte, but of the League. 

The slanting rays of the sun had just reached 
the straggling houses of Mazaraki, embowered 
in pleasant masses of green foliage, as we took 
leave on the following morning of the Albanian 
Pasha, and turned our horses' heads towards the 
northern mouth of the valley. It was a delight- 
ful ride in the crisp autumnal morning, up hill 
and down dale, past cheerful villages and lux- 
uriant plantations of olive and of walnut, to the 
small port of Gomenitza. The extensive ruins 
of a Venetian fort bear witness to its past. As 
to its present not much can be said, except that 
nature has favoured it with a most lovely posi- 
tion. It lies at the head of a deep bay, enclosed 
by green and wooded heights, above which 
tower the mountains of Albania; and on the 
western horizon, out of the blue waters of the 
Adriatic, the cliffs and hills of Corfu rise in bold 
relief against the sky. Here I chartered a small 
barque to convey me across to Corfu; and as 
the coasts of Albania slowly receded in the 



250 



TWIXT GREEK AND TUEK. 



gloaming, it was with a heavy heart I bade 
farewell to a country whose inhabitants had 
won my regard more quickly by their manly 
bearing, their brave hearts, their ready wits, 
and their straightforward speech, than any 
other race I had met with in the East since I 
left the Druses of the Syrian Hauran. 



251 



CHAPTER XIV. 

THE ALBANIAN LEAGUE. 

Less than a century ago, Gibbon, writing of 
Albania, was still fain to confess that though 
within sight of Italy, it was less known than 
the interior of America. Since then it has been 
explored by numerous travellers who have de- 
scribed the beauty of its scenery, the picturesque- 
ness of its towns, the manners and customs of 
its inhabitants, and have studied their quaint 
folk-lore and their strange unwritten tongue. 
But though all agree to recognise in the Alban- 
ians the descendants of a most ancient race, the 
mystery of their origin has never yet been satis- 
factorily unravelled. Nor is this the place to 
enter at length into the question, to which a 
valuable contribution has lately been made by 
a French professor, M. Benloew, in an essay 



252 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

entitled, *La Gr^ce avant les Grecs.' Though 
there are many points in his work which are 
evidently strained to support a theory, his some- 
times fantastic conjectures do not detract from 
the value of his more serious arguments; and 
the new light which he often throws with the 
help of the Albanian language on the nominol- 
ogy of ancient Greece, as well as the skill with 
which he traces the injQuence of Asiatic tradi- 
tions on Greek mythology, substantially support 
his contention that the Albanians of to-day are 
the direct descendants of the first immigrants 
from Asia Minor into the south-eastern penin- 
sula of Europe, of the Pelasgi and Lelegi who 
were afterwards displaced by the hardier Aryans 
known to history under the name of Greeks, 
and compelled to seek refuge in the wild moun- 
tain-ranges where they have preserved into 
modern times the type, the language, and many 
even of the customs of their ancestors. In cor- 
roboration of this theory, I may mention that 
an Austrian craniologist whom I met on my 
way back to Constantinople, told me it was 
only in Albania that he found skulls similar to 



THE ALBANIAN LEAGUE. 253 

the peculiar formation of those discovered in 
the old lUyrian tumuli of Dalmatia. 

Whether the Pelasgic solution of the problem 
be finally adopted, or whether preference be 
given to the Semitic solution, or whether their 
own pretensions to autocthony obtain recogni- 
tion, th6 exact origin of the Albanians does not 
seriously aflfect the future of the Albanian ques- 
tion. To deal with the latter, it is suflBcient 
to know that the race which occupies at the 
present day the mountainous regions of the 
western portion of the Balkan peninsula is one 
of exceeding antiquity, which has preserved 
through centuries, and amid the floods of suc- 
cessive barbarian invasions, not only the purity 
of its lineage and language, but the continuity 
of its national traditions and institutions ; and 
though many pages in the history of Albania 
are still blank or obscure, enough of it is known 
to point the suicidal folly of the Porte in attempt- 
ing to kindle once more into flame for its own 
selfish purposes the fiery spirit of Albanian inde- 
pendence which it had taken so many centuries 
to quench. It has already sadly burnt its fingers 



254 'tWIXT greek and TURK. 

in the undertaking, and worse may yet come. 
But then why does the Porte never recollect that 
States, any more than children, should be allowed 
to play with fire ? 

The history of Albania since the advent of 
Ottoman rule in Europe until the beginning of 
the century, is merely the record of perpetual 
struggles with varying issues between the hardy 
mountaineers and the satraps sent to rule them 
from Constantinople ; and the power which the 
latter enjoyed, depended more upon their suc- 
cess in applying amid the local jealousies of con- 
tending parties the old maxim, Divide et im- 
pera, than on the respect or awe which the cen- 
tral Government could inspire in these remote 
regions. Ali Pasha, the tyrant of Yanina, was 
the first who attempted with an iron hand to 
weld into one homogeneous mass the disjecta 
membra of Albania. The success, however par- 
tial and ephemeral, which attended his eflforts, 
was due doubtless, in the first place, to his 
monstrous genius, for which no undertakings 
were too laborious and no crimes too atro- 
cious; but it may well be doubted whether 
even he would have succeeded in breaking the 



THE ALBANIAN LEAGUE. 255 

power of the feudal aristocracy and coercing 
into subjection the stubborn necks of the 
Skipetars, had he not possessed in their eyes 
the supreme qualification of a national ruler, in 
that he himself was bom an Albanian. Thus it 
happened that when his power at last roused 
the jealousy of Constantinople, and the octo- 
genarian tyrant fell pierced by the bullets of the 
Turkish soldiery, the Porte found itself deceived 
in the hopes which it had fondly formed of sub- 
stituting its own yoke for that which it had in- 
directly helped the Albanians to throw off. It 
was not till ten years later — not till after the 
treacherous banquet in the tented field of Mon- 
astir — that Albanian liberty lay foully murdered 
at the Sultan's feet. Even then certain conces- 
sions were still granted to the more powerful of 
the tribes, and local privileges confirmed or ac- 
corded in order to allay their resentment But 
in the main, Albania was henceforth assimilated 
to the rest of the empire : Turkish pashas occu- 
pied the konaks of her cities; Turkish soldiers 
mounted guard over her strongholds, while her 
own sons were drafted into regiments far away 
in Syria or in Asia Minor; Turkish judges ren- 



256 'tWCCT greek A5B 

d^red Turkish justice in Iier law-courts; and 
Turkbh tax-collectors robbed her peasantry to 
build palaces on the Bosphoms. Now and then 
Albania writhed under the lash ; but the harsh 
di.-j/^ipline seemed to have cowed her proud 
ftpirit, while the local feuds and tribal jealousies 
which the Turkish authorities unceasingly la- 
lx)ured to develop and intensify, appeared to 
incapacitate her for all united action. 

In stating that the present agitation in Al- 
l>ania was not spontaneous in its origin, I do 
not in the least intend to disparage its value or 
question its actual genuinenesa The rapidity 
and vigour of its growth suflBciently testify that 
the germs of the national movement were em- 
bedded in the heart of every Albanian ; and if 
they were first quickened into life by the preach- 
ings and exhortations of the Porte, it was the 
virtues and patriotism of the Albanians them- 
selves which ripened and could alone ripen them 
into maturity. The principle of nationalities 
had been so often made use of against the Otto- 
man Government as a pretext for spoliation and 
foreign interference, that it was only natural for 
the Porte to seize the first opportunity which 



THE ALBANIAN LEAGUE. 257 

presented itself of turning the same weapon 
against its adversaries, and defeating by the 
«le arguments tteir demands for farther ter- 
ritorial sacrifices. European diplomacy had 
adopted for its watchword, " The provinces of 
the Balkan peninsula for the populations of the 
Balkan peninsula." To plead that some portion 
of those provinces should be reserved for their 
Turkish populations was out of the question, for 
they had been voted an anti-human race, and as 
such, had forfeited all their rights. But the 
Albanians had not been outlawed ; and though 
many of them, as Mussulmans, had no doubt 
incurred the reprobation which enveloped all 
their co-religionists, there was among them a 
considerable leaven of Christians who might be 
expected to deserve at the hands of Christian 
Europe some measure of that sympathy which 
was so profusely lavished on Greeks, Bulgars, 
and Armenians : it might even be hoped that 
the warmth of that sympathy would be reflected 
in a lesser deorree on their Moslem brethren. 
The Powers demanded that the national aspi- 
rations of the Greeks and Montenegrins should 
be satisfied by a rectification of frontiers ; what 

R 



258 'tvvixt greek and turk. 

more natural than for the Porte to reply that, 
in regard to such rectifications, account must 
also be taken of the national aspirations of the 
Albanians ? The retort was just, if founded in 
fact. The Powers could only meet it by deny- 
ing that the Albanians had any national aspira- 
tions ; so the denial was given, and the Porte 
set to work to prove the hand Jides of its plea. 
The Albanian agitation dates from the day when 
this ingenious idea was conceived and adopted 
at the Palace of Yeldiz. Its growth may be 
conveniently divided into three periods. 

The first period is that in which it was trans- 
planted from the shores of the Bosphorus to the 
mountains of Albania, and nurtured under the 
watchful care of the Ottoman authorities. The 
Central Committee of the League, which had 
been founded at Stamboul, established branches 
in all the principal towns of Albania, and the 
adhesion of the Albanian chieftains was can- 
vassed for by the Turkish governors. Two 
Albanian chieftains were sent as ambassadors 
to the European Courts to announce the birth 
of the Albanian question, and emissaries were 
despatched to preach the new message in the 



THE ALBANIAN LEAGUE. 259 

remotest Corners of the Albanian highlands. 
The seed fell upon good soil, grew up, and 
bore fruit a hundred-fold. In the course of a 
year the idea conceived at Yeldiz had become 
a living reality, for which brave men were will- 
ing to lay down their lives. When the Chris- 
tian tribes of Northern Albania showed them- 
selves on the bridge of the Zem, and, by oppos- 
ing the advance of the Montenegrins, frustrated 
the execution of the Corti Convention, it became 
evident that a new factor had been introduced 
into the problem, the strength and value of 
which were still uncertain, but which would at 
any rate necessitate a revision of all previous 
calculations. The Sultan saw only the success- 
ful blow which his new weapon had enabled 
him to aim at European diplomacy. He had 
not yet felt the keenness of its double edge. 
Said Pasha, more perspicacious than his master, 
advised him to be cautious in the handling of 
it. But the Sultan was not in the mood to 
be cautious. The weapon < had been cast of 
Albanian metal : to whom could it better be 
intrusted than to an Albanian 1 Said was 
dismissed, and Abeddin called to power. 



260 'twixt greek and tubc 

The Albanian question now enters on its 
second period. Abeddin Pasba, though holding 
office under the nominal leadership of Kadri 
Pasha, had virtual control over all the depart- 
ments of State, so far at least as such control is 
possible where the controllers themselves are 
little more than puppets in the sovereign's 
hands. He at least in one point faithfully 
reflected the Sultan's wishes (and that is in 
Turkey the secret of power) — viz., that the 
hands of the League must be strengthened. 
And he set to work to strengthen them with 
characteristic energy. Turkish governors and 
Turkish officials throughout Albania were super- 
seded by native governors and native officials ; 
the law-courts were subjected to a process of 
epuration familiar to our neighbours across the 
Channel, and peopled with servants of the 
Leaffue: the armv stationed in Albania was 
reorganised — Turkish regiments were replaced 
by Albanian regiments, and Albanian oflicers 
were appointed to all the highest commands. 
In the course of three months the hands of the 
League had been strengthened to such a degree 
that it was ready at any moment to shake off 



THE ALBANIAN LEAGUE. 261 

the tutelage of the Porte and take up its ground 
as an independent Power. The Sultan began to 
feel the double edge of the weapon which he 
had forged. Under the threat of the naval 
demonstration he attempted to replace it in its 
sheath : but he was no longer able to handle it ; 
it had outgrown its sheath ; it was informed 
with life ; its point was turned against his own 
breast. Said, who with the looks had perhaps 
also the cunning of a wizard, might yet be able 
to turn its edge. An imperial firman announced 
the dismissal of Abeddin and the return of Said 
to office. 

But the Albanian movement had attained to 
its majority. It was ready to enter into a new 
phase. The recall of Ali Eiza Pasha from 
Scutari, and the appointment of Dervish Pasha 
in his stead, only served to precipitate events. 
The surrender of Dulcigno and the collapse of 
the vaunted Albanian resistance seemed for a 
moment to justify the sceptics who had per- 
sistently derided the movement as a mere farce 
prompted from Yeldiz Kiosk. But I fancy other 
considerations besides Dervish Pasha's battalions 
and the international fleet operated to reconcile 



262 'twixt greek akd tusk. 

the League to the ceanon of the small fiahing- 
town which it had ao often threatened to destzoy 
rather than give up. In order to atimnlate the 
hostility of the Albanians so long as it was the 
policy of the Porte to nse them as a weapon 
a;^ain8t Europe, the emissaries of the Turkish 
Government had never failed to describe the 
demand for the surrender of Dulcigno as an act 
of special malice directed solely against the 
Skipetars, and dictated by a spirit of fisuiatical 
hostility towards their nation ; and whenever 
the Skipetars alluded to the question of their 
autonomy, it was met by expressions of deep 
regret that, notwithstanding the desire enter- 
tained in the highest quarters to meet the 
wishes of his Majesty's devoted subjects, it was 
inexpedient to still further provoke the Powers 
by a measure which would be construed by 
European prejudice into an act of overt defiance. 
When it became known through the public 
press, through parliamentary blue-books and 
various other channels, that a proposal for grant- 
ing to Albania that very autonomy which it had 
so often claimed and which the Porte had so 
often refused, had been made in the Interna- 



THB ALBANIAN LEAGUE. 263 

tional Commission at Constantinople by the 
representative of the Power which had always 
been denounced as the deadliest foe of the 
Albanians, the latter naturally began to ask 
themselves, " Qui trompe-t-on ici ? '* And when 
it further became known that the proposal, 
supported by Abeddin, had been negatived by 
Said, who had just returned to power as Grand 
Vizier, the reaction produced by their revela- 
tions was immediate, and induced the League to 
at once modify his policy. If the Powers were 
inclined not to crush, but to befriend Albania, 
what was the use of provoking their resentment 
by useless resistance ? The surrender of Dul- 
cigno was agreed to as a concession, not to the 
Porte, but to Europe. The hostility of the 
Albanians was thus deflected into a new chan- 
nel, and betrayed itself in an attitude of grow- 
ing defiance towards the authority of the Sultan. 
Before finally throwing off" its allegiance, the 
League decided to make a supreme efibrt at 
Constantinople to obtain the fulfilment of the 
promises which had hitherto been made only to 
be broken. A general meeting of the League 
was held early in November last at Dibra, and 



264 'tWIXT OREEK and TURK. 

attended by deputies from all parts of Albania. 
A petition, or rather an ultimatum^ was drawn 
up, demanding y&r the last time the recognition 
of Albanian autonomy. Two delegates were 
selected to take it to Constantinople and deliver 
it only into the Sultan's own hands. But before 
even the return of the delegates — who were 
not so much as admitted into the imperial 
presence — announced the failure of their mis- 
sion, the treacherous arrest by Dervish Pasha 
of Prink Bib Doda, the prince of the Mirdites, 
and of Hodo Pasha, the most powerful Mussul- 
man cliieftain of Northern Albania, had shown 
what treatment the Skipetars had to expect 
at tlie hands of the Turkish Government, now 
that the League had outlived the Sultan's lik- 
ing. War was never openly declared, but it 
was openly waged. The few Turkish officials 
remaining in Albania were ignominiously ex- 
pelled; those freshly appointed by the Porte 
were turned back by armed force; the Redifs 
liable to service refused to obey the sunmions ; 
Ali Pasha of Goussinieh collected thousands 
of mountaineers around his standard, and 
turned to good account the long winter months. 



THE ALBANIAN LEAGUE. 265 

when the inclemency of the weather alone 
renders all military operations impossible, in 
drilling and preparing his forces for the coming 
struggle. The seat of the Central Committee 
of the League, which had virtually assumed 
the reins of Government, was transferred from 
Prizrend to Dibra — a more central position, 
where closer and more intimate relations could 
be established between the Ghegs and the 
Turks of Southern Albania. Not the least 
significant incident of the winter was the for- 
mation of an Albanian Committee at Athens, 
through which the League was able to place 
itself in direct communication with the Hellenic 
Government. The threat of a Greek invasion 
has alone deterred the Southern Albanians, and 
especially the Tchamis, who are more immedi- 
ately menaced, from openly taking part with 
their brethren of Central and Northern Albania. 
But they are not unrepresented in the councils 
of the League ; and should the danger of Greek 
annexation be averted either by diplomatic nego- 
tiations or by a direct arrangement with Greece, 
we shall probably see the whole Albanian nation, 
from the shores of the Ambracian Gulf to the 



266 'twixt greek and tubk. 

borders of Montenegro— one and a half million 
of souls — united in the vindication of their 
rights* 

Albania now seems to hold her destinies in 
her own hands : she can shape them according 
to her own bent. Is the national feeling, the 
consciousness of a national duty, strong enough 
to overrule the distracting influences of tribal 
jealousies and sectarian differences, and com- 
bine for a supreme effort all the heterogeneous 
elements divided by the traditions of secular 
rivalry? Those who know Albania best are 
disposed to answer Yes. The pride of creed is 
in Albania only second to the pride of race. In 
Albania alone, of all the countries of the East, 
the first question asked of a man is, not what he 
is, but who he is. So long as he is an Albanian, 
it is only a secondary consideration whether he 
be Christian or Mussulman, Eeligion is regarded 
chiefly as a matter of expediency, and there are 
especially many arguments to show that Islam 
has never struck deep roots into the soil of 
Albania. The prevalence of Christian names 
and Christian customs among Mussulmans ; the 
frequent intermarriages between Christians and 



THE ALBANIAN LEAGUE. 267 

Mussulmans; the existence of numerous com- 
munities of crypto-Christians, who follow out- 
wardly the law of the Prophet, and conform 
secretly to the practices of Christianity; the 
position of women, which is permanently deter- 
mined by their birth, whereas in Mohammedan 
countries maternity can raise the humblest to 
the highest rank, — these are only a few illustra- 
tions of the numerous points in which the creed 
of Islam has failed to weaken the strength of 
national traditions. With regard to the petty 
squabbles and tribal feuds which seem hitherto 
to have engrossed all the energies of the Alban- 
ians, it is asserted that you have only to set 
before them a higher goal for them to concen- 
trate upon its attainment the courage, the 
endurance, the devotion, which they have so 
often wasted to such trifling purpose. I can 
at any rate but express the hope that this 
sanguine estimate may be realised. A higher 
goal has now been set before them — the vindi- 
cation of their liberty ; and certainly, of all 
the subject races of Turkey, none have better 
deserved to conquer it, for none have shown 
themselves more tenacious of its virtues. 



268 



CHAPTER XV. 

BACK TO I8TAMB0UL. 

A FEW hours' sail over a narrow channel of the 
Adriatic brought me, as it were, into another 
world. From the harbour of Corfu my eyes 
wandered back to the mountains of Albania, so 
near and yet so far oflF, separated only by a few 
miles of sea, and yet divided off from the scenes 
around me by the immeasurable gulf of centu- 
ries. Everything about me was impressed with 
the mark of our modem civilisation, from the 
men-of-war in the roadstead, equipped with all 
the improved appliances of a deadly science, 
and the big steamers bearing the spoils of the 
East to the crowded markets of the West, down 
to the fussiness of the custom-house officials, 
the offensive obsequiousness of hotel touts and 
ciceroni, the excited squabbling of coffee-house 



BACK TO I8TAMB0UL. 269 

politicians, the busy bustle of the market-place, 
and the strutting swagger of dandified Greek 
officers, with trailing swords and washed-out 
faces. Yonder, across that narrow strip of blue 
water, the mountains of Albania loomed out of 
the mist like mighty barriers, potent to arrest 
even the march of time. In the peaceful valleys 
which nestled under their rugged slope genera- 
tions had succeeded generations, but man re- 
mained unchanged, like his solemn surroundings. 
Now and again the breath of the storms which 
shattered the thrones and uprooted the civilisa- 
tions of the world around him had swept over 
the placid waters of his motionless existence, but 
they had passed over its surface without stirring 
its depths : the same unwritten laws governed 
his social life ; the same simple means supplied 
the same simple wants ; the same fierce passions 
marred the same primitive virtues ; if the form 
of his religion had changed, the old spirit still 
overshadowed the new dogmas ; days, years, 
centuries had passed, but, for better or for worse, 
man had learnt and forgotten nothing. Was it 
for better or for worse? I was just trying to 
think out that question when a violent thump 



270 'tWIXT OREEK AKD TURK. 

on my back arrested all further reflections. A 
young Greek officer, whom I had met a few 
months previously at Athens, shook me vehe- 
mently by the hand, and inquired, with a lisp, 
where I came from. " From Albania.'' " Bah ! 
what a country to travel in I Why, it's a land 
of savages. But wait till we have had it for 
ten years in our hands. Then come and travel 
in it. You shall have railways, and theatres, 
and hotels, and newspapers " " And a con- 
stitution, and party government, and pure elec- 
tions, and universal shoddy. Thank you for 
nothing I Civilise Albania by all means, if you 
yourselves have enough civilisation to spare 
for the job ; but, for God's sake, give me timely 
warning, that I may move on beforehand to 
some new land of savages." My friend was 
puzzled, and I fear somewhat hurt at my out- 
burst. That a man who wore a hat and a suit 
of dittos could have any sympathy for savages 
was doubtless an unexpected revelation. He 
did not understand that one may wear a livery 
and yet feel inclined at times to revolt against 
the bondage. 

I was inclined to conclude from the constant 



BACK TO ISTAMBOUL. 271 

tramp of armed men, and the ubiquitous ping- 
ping of musketry practice, that the Corfuotes 
had indeed taken in full earnest their mission 
of civilisation. As, sauntering along the esplan- 
ade, I watched old men of sixty and boys of 
fifteen vying with each other in the performance 
of the goose-step, I was disposed to admire in 
them the fortitude of patriots who were ready 
to brave not only the horrors of the battle-field 
but the weariness of the drill-yard, in order to 
make their Greek brethren and Albanian cousins 
over the water copartners in the blessings of a 
strongly centralised Government, Alas for the 
waste of admiration I My heroes were only poor 
devils, who had been but yesterday brought in 
from their native villages, where the keen eye 
and strong hand of the police had ferreted them 
out of their hiding-places in hay-stacks, cow- 
sheds, and suchlike, more fortunate, perhaps, 
but scarcely more worthy of admiration than 
the six hundred other natives of Corfu who have 
made good their escape from conscription by 
flying to Brindisi, Venice, and Trieste. It 
would seem as if the Greek nomarchs of Corfu 
had not yet succeeded in establishing the mil- 



272 'twixt greek and turk. 

lennium on the ruins of our tyranny and pub- 
lic works. The age of gold and silver has 
passed away with our rule, and the age of paper 
money and copper has followed in its stead; 
but the iron age of Hellenic virtue^ is not yet 

The eternal beauty of Corfu has been so often 
celebrated that it is needless to dwell on the 
twice-told tale. The view of the bay as we 
steamed out of it at sunset was of more than 
ordinary loveliness. The sun had already sunk 
over the hills behind the town, and the faint- 
est of evening mists tempered the hard out- 
lines of the modern houses and the sharp angles 
of the bastions which rise tier upon tier from 
the water's edge ; the lofty peak of Mount San 
Salvador, where the people still go up in the 
summer to the " high place," to worship on the 
same spot where Nero danced before the altar 
of Zeus, stood out in dark relief against the 
crimson sky, while over the glassy waters to 
the east the Acroceraunian mountains reared 
up to heaven ** their thunder-cliffs of fear/' I 
had taken passage on board one of the Greek 
steamers which ply between Corfu and the head 
of the Gulf of Corinth, and I may take this 



BACK TO ISTAMBOUL. 273 

opportunity of saying that for comfort, cleanli- 
ness, and punctuality, the Atmoploia Hellenike 
may safely bear comparison with any other line 
of steamers in the Levant. By the brilliant 
light of the full moon I could discern many 
points which had become familiar to me during 
my journey through Epirus — the long, low cliflFs 
of Paxos and Antipaxos, the castellated Bay of 
Parga, the marshy estuary of the Acheron, and 
far beyond, against the dark horizon, the light- 
ning ridge of Suli. 

After stopping once in the middle of the 
night at Santa Maura, we cast anchor, in the 
early morning, in the harbour of Zante. The 
taU square campanUes of its churches, the shady 
arcades which line its streets, the columned bal- 
conies of its massive stone houses, at once mark 
its long and intimate connection with Venice ; 
while the influence of the Moslem east is ap- 
parent in the heavy wooden lattices which shield 
the windows from the impertinent gaze of 
strangers. Shut in by precipitous cliflfs, in 
many places rent and torn asunder by earth- 
quakes and landslips, the town stretches along 
the shore of the semicircular bay to a distance 

s 



274 'twixt oreek akd tuul 

of nearly two miles, and beyond it at either end 
bright villas gleam amid the dark foliage of 
orange-groves and olive-trees. A minons Vene- 
tian castle crowns the hill above the northern 
extremity of the town, while the eastern end of 
the bay is guarded by the jagged crest of an 
extinct volcano. The long quays made bright 
with the varied colours of flowers and fruits, 
and the quaint forms and rigging of the native 
craft crowding behind the mole, make up a pic- 
ture which is well worthy of its motto : *' Zante, 
Zante, Fior di Levante '' — the Water-lily of the 
East. 

From Zante we changed our course to the 
north-west, and we were soon sailing up the 
noble entrance of the Corinthian Gulf. To the 
north the mountains of iEtolia and Acarnania 
mingled their snows with the fleecy clouds 
which hung about their summits; and in the 
midst of the plains and lagoons which stretched 
away to their feet, a long line of walls and ram- 
parts marked the town of Mesolonghi, where, 
during the war of independence, the remnant of 
the Suliotes under the leadership of Mark Bot- 
zaris, avenged upon the Turks the destruction 



BACK TO ISTAMBOUL. 275 

of their mountain homes, and shed upon the 
Greek cause the immortal lustre of their prowess. 
To the west and south, the jagged ranges of the 
Peloponnesus tower above the fertile plains of 
Achaia, Mount Voidhia claiming kingship above 
them all. Presently Patras, the second town 
of Greece, comes into sight, prosperous, clean, 
solidly built, and laid out with painful regu- 
larity, a geometrical figure cut out in stone 
and stucco. Precious hours of daylight were 
wasted in loading endless boatloads of currants ; 
and as we entered the Straits of Lepanto, where 
the fleets of Christendom first humbled the 
pride of the ever-victorious Crescent, the shades 
of evening were fast closing in over one of the 
most lovely scenes in Europe. Before morning 
broke we had reached the modern Corinth. 
There is nothing in the modern town to arrest 
attention, and the traveller's eye quickly glances 
up from its whitewashed hovels and prosaic 
wine-shops to the isolated rock where the ruins 
of the Aero Corinthus, tower-capped, '* seem the 
very clouds to kiss.'* The modern Greeks have 
often talked of completing the canal which their 
ancestors planned and even commenced across 



276 *TWIXT GREEK AND TURK. 

f 

the isthmas. But in these days' of safe invest- 
ments and speedy returns, the yroject has not 
met with much financial support? So the jour- 
ney has still to be performed .by road. An 
hour suffices to cross the narrow plain, and at 
Kalamaki another steamer is in readiness to 
convey the traveller across the Saronic Gulf to 
the PinBUS. 

Forty-eight hours later, and exactly eleven 
weeks after my departure, I landed again at 
Constantinople. A storm of rain and sleet and 
bitter squalls from the Black Sea, announced 
that winter was upon us, and that my journey 
had been brought to a timely conclusion. 



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